As the nation braces itself for dramatic rises in fuel bills, Gloucestershire College has unveiled the final part of a multi-million pound investment which means it now runs on 100 per cent renewable energy.
The £5.5 million fit-out of solar panels and ground source heat pumps from a £2.8 million investment from Salex and £2.7 million from the college, will deliver annual savings of at least £400,000 and an income of £120,000 from energy it will be able to sell back into the national grid.
It makes the college not just a flagship for Gloucestershire, as the county council pushes towards its own goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, but the first college in the country to move to 100 per cent renewable energy.
Over the next 25 years, the college expects to see carbon reductions of 6.5 million kilograms - the equivalent of powering 4,637 homes annually - and reduce its carbon footprint by 63 per cent over the next year.
Matthew Burgess, principal and chief executive officer of Gloucestershire College, which has campuses in Gloucester, Cheltenham and the Forest of Dean, said: ‘We’re delighted. We are now working with our students to influence their food choices and embedding carbon literacy into the curriculum, so they understand the implications of the snacks and lunches they buy.’
Plans are also underway to introduce electric vehicle charging points to its parking areas.
The move to 100 per cent renewable energy was marked by students burying a time capsule in the college grounds, which included records of their hopes for the future, with a plaque being unveiled by MP for Gloucester, Richard Graham.
Attendees at the ceremony included Salix Finance, project partners Hillside Environmental Services and Integral, The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education (EAUC), Business West, Gloucestershire County Council, GFirst LEP, Bamboo Technology Group and Gloucester Rugby, alongside supporters, college staff, students and governors.