St Andrews university to get £25m eco power hub

The old quad of St Andrews University. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
The old quad of St Andrews University. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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WORK is set to begin on a state-of-the-art green energy centre at Scotland’s oldest university after an £11 million injection of funds.

It is hoped the £25 million project, part of an eco-friendly drive by St Andrews University, will help regenerate part of Fife and benefit the environment.

More than 225 jobs are expected to be created during construction at the 36-acre site at the village of Guardbridge, with apprenticeships and opportunities for local workers.

The project got the go-ahead after securing an £11mloan from the Scottish Partnership for Regeneration in Urban Centres (Spruce) Fund, a joint Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund initiative, and a £10m grant from the Scottish Funding Council.

The university is contributing £4m.

As part of plans to become the UK’s first carbon-neutral university, St Andrews will install a biomass facility that burns virgin roundwood sourced locally from sustainable forests. Hot water from the plant will be pumped underground to heat and cool laboratories and student accommodation.

This comes in tandem with a new mini wind farm being erected at nearby Kenly. With a combined generating capacity of 12 megawatts, the six-turbine scheme will feed directly into the university grid to make it self-sufficient for electricity. Harnessing wind power will save around 19,000 tonnes of climate-warming emissions every year.

University leaders believe the centre, which will also be used for academic research, is likely to attract further investment in renewable technologies to Fife.

“Guardbridge represents a major strategic step for the university,” said chief operating officer Derek Watson.

“This large industrial site lends itself to the creation of a range of renewable energies which are vital for our efforts to remain one of Europe’s leading research institutions.

“We believe the diverse range of potential uses for Guardbridge has the capacity to re-establish this huge site as a key economic centre in Fife.”

Local authority planners gave the scheme the green light in November last year.

Fife Council leader David Ross welcomed the development, which he described as “a major project, not just for the local community but potentially for the whole of Fife’s economy”.

Social justice secretary Alex Neil, who announced the deal, said: “The centre’s projected carbon savings will help the environment and the local area will benefit from the university’s commitment to job creation and apprenticeships.”