Melbourne University is the latest beneficiary of Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) capital, following the fund’s commitment of up to $9.1 million to accelerate the university’s implementation of energy efficient and renewably energy technologies.

With its 47,000 students, the university has the energy requirements of a town the size of Warrnambool due to the operating of large campuses, facilities and research facilities. The university is aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, and the CEFC support will help move the university closer to zero emissions electricity.

Paul McCartney, CEFC Executive Director – Corporate and Project Finance, said half of the energy consumption on a typical university campus is directly related to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning requirements, with about one third related to equipment and almost 20 per cent related to lighting.

“These are all areas where the introduction of renewable energy and energy efficient equipment can really drive down energy usage and therefore significantly reduce energy emissions and costs.”

The CEFC’s finance will enable the university to:

  • install voltage optimisation equipment, which is part of the project’s first stage, and is expected to produce the biggest energy saving – reducing consumption by more than 4 GWh per annum
  • upgrade outdated freezers used at its medical and science research facilities with more energy efficient models that are expected to use around half the energy, saving about 0.6 GWh per annum
  • implement a widespread rollout of solar PV – 1,500 kW across 18 roof spaces – to provide future grid energy savings by generating over 2.2 GWh of energy a year
  • install three micro turbines on three buildings, with the potential capacity of 0.18 GWh
  • install a concentrated solar thermal power system, to be used for space heating and swimming pool heating with expected savings of 0.75 GWh

 

These initiatives are expected to help the university reduce its grid electricity use by some 8 per cent, and deliver carbon emissions abatement of over 9,000 tonnes per year upon project completion.

Mr McCartney acknowledged the challenges universities face in public budget restraint, intensifying global competition, and the need to use cutting edge technology to meet increasing student expectations.

“Clean energy installations like those being undertaken by the University of Melbourne can help universities meet these challenges through an investment that results in reduced environmental impact, higher productivity and stronger financial performance.”

As part of its Investment Mandate, the CEFC has a focus on financing emerging and innovative renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency for cities and the built environment.

Mr McCartney said the CEFC is looking to work on similar projects with other Australian universities to help them achieve increased sustainability.