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Cutting carbon at the University of York

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University of York Biomass

A project designed to help the University of York meet its carbon reduction commitments has reached completion.

The project comprised the installation of one biomass boiler – capable of delivering 850kW of energy – along with two gas-fired 1.5MW Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engines. The University commissioned the project as part of its renewable heat strategy and carbon management plan – which aim to reduce carbon emissions in 2012, 2017 and 2020.

Funding for the project was provided by The Higher Education Funding Council for England and through internal funding at the University. The cost to install the two CHP units was £3.1 million, whilst the installation of the biomass boiler was £750,000. Vital Energi was the main contractor on the project.

University of York Environment and Energy Manager, Roger Hartshorn, said:

“These two installations were included in addition to energy facilities already in operation at the University and mark the first step on an extensive energy saving plan over the next ten years.

“The University has four strategic objectives, one of which is sustainability and these new units will help us achieve our carbon targets ahead of schedule. This is a fantastic achievement.

University of York Biomass

“The University of York is committed to carbon reduction and sustainability, and continues to create a sustainable infrastructure that can support an ever expanding university.”

Vital Energi Joint Managing Director, Ian Whitelock, added:

“Vital Energi is helping to reduce The University of York’s energy costs and CO₂ emissions with the installation of this low carbon, biomass and CHP-fuelled community heating system. We designed, supplied and installed a state-of-the-art system as part of the University’s £750 million expansion programme which is upgrading its existing Heslington West campus and creating a brand new Heslington East campus.

“Vital Energi’s sustainable energy system will enable the University to generate heat and power more efficiently, fulfil its expanding energy requirements and meet its target to use 10 per cent renewable energy to power its campus.

“The Biomass Energy Centre is highly-efficient, low-cost and low-carbon and will contribute around 7,000,000kWhrs of thermal energy to the overall University demand per year. We have installed an energy system that will provide the University with energy security in the long-term, which will require less maintenance and reduce energy bills.”

University of York Biomass

The installation of the biomass boiler was completed in September 2012, whilst the installation of the gas-fired CHP engines reached completion in December 2012. Throughout the course of the scheme, Vital Energi’s project manager documented progress via an ongoing series of reports.

Ian commented:

“We have been working with the University since 2009 on different phases of the same utility infrastructure project. In 2009 we completed the first phase of the installation of a multi-utility corridor from the existing Heslington West boiler house to the new Heslington East campus. In 2012 we completed the second phase of this work and constructed three electrical substations.

“In this time we have built a close working relationship with The University of York; and are pleased to assist the University with its ambitious expansion plans.”

Roger commented:

“This project stemmed from our carbon management plan. We conducted a business case for both projects, acquired funding and then worked towards a tight delivery date to complete the work. Both the CHP and the biomass boiler were installed into a very congested boiler house, so we had to reconfigure a considerable amount of kit and even remove some of the older boilers.

“The biomass boiler was manufactured off-site and was installed within a two day period. Vital Energi completed all the preparation work in advance and this was one of the smoothest installations to be completed at the University.

“We have a very good working relationship with Vital Energi and this was demonstrated perfectly during this operation.”

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