The University of Queensland (UQ) has become the first major university in the world to offset all of its electricity use with clean, renewable energy.
This follows the launch of the university’s 200 000-panel solar farm recently.
According to Global Citizen, an international non-profit that fights poverty and campaigns for global climate action, the solar farm is situated close to the Queensland town of Warwick and will generate around 160 gigawatt-hours of renewable electricity a year.
Enough electricity to power 25 000 homes
This is enough to power over 25 000 households and decrease coal usage by at least 60 000 tonnes.
Global Action quotes the university’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Peter Høj, as saying that organisations, businesses and universities need to step up if the world is to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and Australia is to achieve its Paris agreement targets.
Høj hopes UQ’s achievement will inspire others and prove that transitioning to renewable energy is feasible.
Transition to renewables done at scale
“The Warwick Solar farm is first and foremost an act of leadership that demonstrates that a transition to renewables can be done at [a] scale that’s practicable and makes economic sense,” Høj said in an article published on the Queensland University website.
“When it comes to climate change, we all share the responsibility and the consequences, and so we need to be acting in a way that is informed by research and with collaboration in mind.”
Alongside the positive environmental outcomes, the solar farm also makes economic sense for the university.
Electricity savings will help pay loan
The farm is primarily funded by a $125 million loan from the state government. A significant chunk of the money that was previously devoted to paying the university’s electricity fee will now go toward the loan.
Queensland State Development Minister Kate Jones said the university’s investment in the solar sector had accelerated progress toward the state’s target of 50% renewables by 2030.
“Queensland is already a world leader in the take-up of household solar rooftops, and this is another global energy title,” Jones said.