Twenty of the UK’s leading universities have struck a £50m deal to buy renewable energy directly from British windfarms for the first time.
The collaborative clean energy deal will supply electricity from wind farms across Scotland and Wales to universities including Newcastle University, University of Exeter and Aberystwyth University.
The landmark deal, known as a “power purchase agreement” or PPA, is the first time that public sector energy users have clubbed together to buy clean electricity.
The PPA was arranged by deal brokers at The Energy Consortium and Squeaky Clean Energy to fix the price of renewable electricity from a portfolio British windfarms for the next 10 years.
The universities will be guaranteed clean energy by the windfarm owner, Norwegian energy giant Statkraft, which will issue certificates matching the output of the windfarms.
James Rolfe, the chief operating officer at Anglia Ruskin University, which is part of the deal, said the university has joined others in declaring a climate emergency, and plans to be climate neutral by 2030.
“To support this commitment we aim to source all of our electricity from zero carbon sources by 2025, and this power purchase agreement makes a significant contribution towards this goal whilst delivering financial savings and budget stability,” he added.
Richard Murphy, the managing director of The Energy Consortium, said the “groundbreaking deal” would help universities reduce their carbon emissions and save money by accessing the power purchase market for the first time.
Murphy helped arrange one of the first major corporate energy deals in Europe in 2008 to supply supermarket giant with renewable energy.
Since then the PPAs have remained the preserve of larger, multi-site corporations because most renewable energy developers require hefty deals over long contract periods, according to Murphy.
One of the UK’s largest deals was struck last year between Budweiser brewer AB InBev and solar developer Lightsource BP to build 100MW of solar power, without subsidy, to help power their nationwide operations.
Last month, Google revealed the company’s $2bn plans for the biggest renewable energy deal in corporate history. It is made up of 18 separate agreements to supply Google with 1,600MW of electricity from wind and solar projects across the world.
Murphy said that collaborative energy purchase deals mean that even small institutions are now “able to navigate a previously inaccessible market” too.
“The combined challenge facing the wider public sector is to secure reduced carbon emissions whilst saving money and I am delighted that these universities have secured both,” he said.