Churchill is aiming to reduce natural gas usage on site by 45% by 2030. This will be achieved by installing solar panels and heat pump technologies, and by the retrofitting of insulation and secondary glazing.
The College has 20,000m2 of flat roof that is suitable for solar panels. The College is in the preliminary stages of designing a solar system to cover part of this space. A feasibility study was recently undertaken for a 305kW solar system.
The Centre for Alternative Technology estimates that a 1 kW solar panel generates between 700 and 900 kWh of energy each year in the UK. For reference, this is enough energy to make around 8,000 cups of tea.
Two members of staff have already been trained on how to fit and maintain solar panels.
One issue with solar technologies is the imbalance between energy generation and energy demand. Energy is generated during the day, whereas demand peaks in the evening when students return from labs, lectures and supervisions.
To address this, Churchill is planning to install more electric vehicle charging points to increase daytime demand. Churchill will also be involved in a University energy storage trial.
The reduction in on-site natural gas usage is just part of the College’s efforts to improve sustainability. These efforts include plans to introduce five acres of meadowing and to plant 1,000 trees onsite.
Tom Boden, Head of Estates, said that “We [the College] have a great opportunity and responsibility to lead in environmental sustainability.”
This comes in the wake of increased pressure on Churchill to divest from fossil fuel companies.