Installing solar panels – are they worth it?

Opinion: Dan Fernbank, Energy & Sustainability Director With energy prices skyrocketing, I find myself increasingly being asked whether solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are good investments at home.  There is no one answer to this question, but set out below are my suggestions of points to consider. The roof Firstly, do you own your home?  If you live in a flat, it is likely to be leasehold and so any roof installation would need the permission of the landlord. Assuming you have the right to install a PV system, your roof needs to be between east and west facing – ideally…
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BEIS’ Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF) grant

The University has been awarded a £100,000 grant from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The grant comes from BEIS’ Green Heat Network Fund (GNHF) and will be fund matched by the University. The GNHF aims to transform UK heating by switching existing heat networks to low carbon fuel sources. This grant will enable us to commission design work to assist with the decarbonisation of the heating systems at Whiteknights campus. Specifically this will focus on plans to install a large heat pump into our energy centre. The energy centre currently provides heating to 16 buildings on the…
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Energy Manager’s Association (EMA) award for Net Zero Strategy 2021

We were honoured to win the EMA’s Net Zero Strategy 2021 award, recognising our ambitious plan to become net zero by 2030 as the best in the UK. This award puts us among the leading public and private sector organisations in the UK for sustainability. The University’s Net Zero Carbon plan is wide ranging, including shifting buildings to carbon-free heating, cutting emissions from national and international business travel, and reducing waste and improving efficiency across the estate. The judges highlighted the clear, comprehensive nature of the plan, including the clearly-defined milestones to help measure progress. This award gives us the…
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Big Sustainability Awards’ Carbon Reduction Project of the Year

Our partnership with Salix Finance has won a major sustainability ‘carbon reduction project of the year’ award. The decarbonisation and energy efficiency project has been delivered across our campuses with a total cost of £3.3m and has enabled carbon emission reductions of 816 tonnes per year. The work centred on delivering low carbon heating, with a major redesign of heating in key buildings to change how heating is zoned to reduce wastage. It has also enabled major lighting and energy efficiency upgrades and a further nine solar panel installations.
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Delivering Net Zero Carbon – FAQs

This blog follows up a recent all-staff presentation on the University's Net Zero Carbon strategy, aiming to address the key questions raised. Active travel The University has invested over £500,000 in improved on-campus pedestrian and cycling facilities over the last 5 years, but we recognise that many of the barriers to more active travel lie outside of our boundaries.  We do actively engage with the local councils, have supported the installation of a much-needed pedestrian crossing on Pepper Lane and have committed our support for a crossing on Upper Redlands Road too. Reading Borough Council currently has a live consultation…
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Grant funding award for Earley Gate decarbonisation study

The University has recently been awarded a £50,000 grant from Phase 2 of Salix Finance’s Low Carbon Skills Fund (LCSF2) to undertake a heat decarbonisation study for the Earley Gate side of the Whiteknights campus. Funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the LCSF2 is specifically focused on helping the public sector make plans for how they can decarbonise their heating systems in the years ahead.  The University’s Net Zero Carbon Plan commits it to full decarbonisation of its heating systems by 2030 and with all of the buildings on Earley Gate currently heated with gas…
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Fridge freezer upgrades completed

We are pleased to publish details of a further two Salix grant-funded projects which we have now completed the energy saving measurements for. Over several weeks during spring 2021, a large number of lab refrigeration units at Whiteknights campus were replaced. These included refrigeration units, non-ultra-low temperature freezers (-20°C) and ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers (-80°C). Each project has produced good energy savings, with a combined total annual saving of £ 5,450 per year and 8.3 tonnes CO2 per year. Why were the refrigeration units upgraded? Most of the refrigeration units were aging and inefficient, using excess electricity and resulting in…
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How data and the Institute for Environmental Analytics’ expertise are helping Small Islands States in their journey to renewables

By Dr Maria Noguer, Climate Programme Manager, Institute for Environmental Analytics (IEA) When we first tuned up in the Seychelles in 2018 to explain to our project partners that a combination of space data and our expertise could help them transition to a low carbon economy, they looked at the sky and then at us with suspicious eyes. Space sounded esoteric but they were intrigued and excited. Solar farm in Vanuatu (Maria Noguer and Alan Yates on a site visit) Addressing grand challenges: high cost of energy and climate change The Institute for Environmental Analytics had just been awarded a…
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New LED Lamps shine a light on SAPD’s research

While exploring Whiteknights campus, you may have spotted several large glasshouses which are part of large complex called the Crop and Environment Laboratory (CEL). CEL is one of many research facilities offered by the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development (SAPD) where research is focused on food security and resilience to climate change. Last year, Sustainability Services approached SAPD regarding the opportunity to fund the upgrade of the growth lamps in some of the CEL glasshouses to deliver significant energy savings.  Following technical assessments by Professors Paul Hadley and Donal O’Sullivan in Crop Sciences, the project was approved for funding…
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First Salix grant-funded project complete!

We are pleased to announce that we have now completed the energy saving measurements from our first Salix grant-funded project - upgrading the existing lab drying ovens in operation across our Whiteknights campus. Drying ovens are typically used to dry a variety of equipment including glassware (test tubes, etc.) and instruments but they can also be used for general purpose warming. The upgrades have produced better energy savings than predicted, and we can expect this project to have a payback period of 5 years. Why were the lab drying ovens upgraded? Most of the previous drying ovens in operation were…
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