A consortium of 20 UK universities just announced a GBP 50 million collaborative clean energy deal to power their institutions over the next decade. The deal purchases energy from wind farms across Scotland and Wales and is known as a “power purchase agreement” or PPA. This is the first time for not only universities but any UK public sector energy users to use their buying power to purchase clean electricity as a group, gaining access to the power purchase market. The deal was made possible by Squeky Clean Energy group which specilises in bypassing utility companies to offer financially viable, 100% renewable energy supply.
This move can be seen as a response to a wave of public institutions and local governments declaring a climate emergency across the UK, and committing to take action.
James Rolfe of Anglia Ruskin University states: “To support this commitment we aim to source all of our electricity from zero carbon sources by 2025”. Case studies of financial savings and budget stability are crucial to support other universities and public bodies to follow their lead, scaling the practice collective renewable energy purchase.
Over the last 20 years, the divestment movement has grown in prominence, but addressing endowments and energy use are both crucial steps to public institutions reducing their emissions.
How can universities better collaborate to maximize their commitments towards going carbon neutral? What innovative market mechanisms can incentive institutions' energy transformation? How can the public sector best support a democratised and decentralised energy infrastructure?