St Andrews Uni commissions award-winning £25m biomass plant

The University of St Andrews’ £25 million (€29.3m) biomass plant at the Eden Campus at Guardbridge has been officially commissioned.

The plant marks a major step forward for St Andrews’ plans to become the UK’s first carbon neutral university.

Located on the east side of a former paper mill site, the plant produces hot water in a biomass boiler using clean, natural fuels from sustainable sources across Scotland.

The water is pumped four miles underground to St Andrews where it heats university buildings.

In early December, the energy centre won a major national award at the Scottish Green Energy Awards 2016, defeating strong competition from across Scotland to take the prestigious Sustainable Development Award.

The project is funded by an £11 million loan from the Scottish Partnership for Regeneration in Urban Centres (SPRUCE) Fund, a joint Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund initiative managed by Amber Infrastructure, and a £10 million grant from the Scottish Funding Council, with the remaining £4 million coming from the university.

At a short commissioning ceremony at Guardbridge, principal professor Sally Mapstone officially lit the biomass boiler.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Guardbridge community and children from Guardbridge Primary School.

“This is an important milestone on our journey to becoming the first University to be carbon neutral for our energy usage,” Mapstone said.

“To heat water and pump it four miles to heat our buildings and student residences is a considerable feat of engineering and I would commend our partners Vital Energi and all those who made it possible for a great achievement.

Mike Cooke, regional director for Vital Energi, said: “By working with the University we have been able to ensure that this project has already delivered significant employment and environmental benefits to Fife and the wider community, and now the scheme will begin to deliver the economic benefits for decades to come.

“This award-winning project will now deliver 6000 tonnes of carbon reductions each year, which is a huge step towards the university’s ambition of carbon neutrality and a great addition to Scotland’s growing sustainable energy infrastructure.” 

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