Midlothian solar farm to play a vital role for university

A Midlothian solar farm that will play a vital role in helping the University of Edinburgh become carbon neutral by 2040 is nearing completion.

By Kevin Quinn
Friday, 18th September 2020, 7:08 am
Dave Gorman, Edinburgh University's Director of Social Responsibility and Sustainability joined Charlie Easton, FES Support Services Director on a visit to the Easter Bush Estate. Photo by Neil Hanna.
Dave Gorman, Edinburgh University's Director of Social Responsibility and Sustainability joined Charlie Easton, FES Support Services Director on a visit to the Easter Bush Estate. Photo by Neil Hanna.

Almost 5000 ground-mounted panels are now being installed at Easter Bush campus in a move that will save an estimated £200,000 per year in electricity costs. Installation is due to finish in November.

The five-hectare site – the equivalent of five football pitches – will be connected to the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and Roslin Institute. Its photovoltaic (PV) panels are expected to generate more than 1,400,000 kWh of electricity a year, roughly the same as that needed to supply 500 typical homes.

The solar farm will provide 15 per cent of the Easter Bush site’s electricity consumption.

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Together with existing generation capacity, 60 per cent of Easter Bush’s electricity, and 30 per cent of its heat, will be generated on site from low or zero-carbon technologies.

The Easter Bush development includes a ‘living laboratory’ for solar PV research, enabling researchers to investigate improved methods of generating green power.

Edinburgh University’s ambition of becoming carbon neutral by 2040 represents one aspect of its commitment to social and civic responsibility and to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Dave Gorman, the university’s director of social responsibility and sustainability, said: “The University of Edinburgh has invested more than £20 million in low-carbon energy in recent years, which has reduced its overall CO2 emissions by almost 10,000 tonnes annually. The solar farm at Easter Bush will not only allow us to lead the way in the practical implementation of such technology, but research the next generation of low-carbon energy.”

The University of Edinburgh was an early adopter of PV technology. Its first panels were installed at its King’s Buildings campus in 2007 and have since generated nearly 1,000MWh.

In recent years, the University’s solar installations have generated an average of 265MWh of electricity annually. The new development will substantially increase that figure, to an average annual figure of 4,500 MWh, which will save more than 1,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.