St Andrews Citizen: “Green Light for Energy Centre”

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The University of St Andrews’ drive to become a carbon neutral institution came a step closer this week when plans for a biomass development at Guardbridge were approved by Fife Council.

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The £25 million investment will see power generated through clean biomass at Guardbridge and hot water pumped for four miles underground to St Andrews to heat and cool its labs and residences at North Haugh and Fife Park.

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The biomass plant will sit alongside the university’s planned six-turbine wind farm at Kenly, east of St Andrews, supporting a strategic drive by St Andrews to become the United Kingdom’s first carbon-neutral university and saving around 500,000 tonnes of carbon in the next 20 years alone.

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In a quick decision on Wednesday, members of Fife Council’s north east planning committee approved the university’s planning applications to develop the former paper mill for both university and business uses, creating the Sustainable Power and Research Campus, and all the ancillary work connected with piping hot water to St Andrews and returning the used, cold water to the biomass plant.

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The three-part plan for the paper mill includes the energy centre with a log store and wood chipping area; a second zone for industry, research and testing; and thirdly, industrial, office and storage facilities.

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The green energy produced on site and at Kenly will help the university protect jobs and ward off the effects of rapidly rising external energy prices. Although St Andrews has managed to cut its power consumption in recent years, energy prices have been continually hiked by the big power companies, representing a major threat to investment in front line teaching and research.

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In addition to the energy centre, the university’s plans for Guardbridge include a Knowledge Exchange Hub to provide “missing link” facilities which would allow research and discoveries made in university labs to be translated to working prototypes.

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The centre will also offer affordable accommodation to local companies, with the aim of attracting businesses and skills linked to the renewables sector.

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Councillors did express concerns about where the material for the biomass plant would be sourced. The university has said the facility will use only virgin roundwood, locally sourced from sustainable forests within 50 miles of the plant and councillors wanted to be sure that meant the wood was locally grown, not imported from overseas by local merchants.

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Councillor Bryan Poole described the plan as “a good news story and a very ambitious project for the university”.

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A spokesperson for the University of St Andrews said: “We are delighted that planning permission has been granted and that this exciting project has passed another significant milestone.

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“Guardbridge offers a tremendous opportunity to establish not just a green energy centre, but a wider campus for innovation, research and development. We look forward to working with our local community and neighbours to bring significant benefits to the village of Guardbridge itself, the university, Fife and Scotland.”

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The £25 million cost of the scheme is backed by a £10 million grant from the Scottish Funding Council which is supporting carbon reduction schemes across Scottish Higher Education.

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Story first published in the St Andrews Citizen.

Temporary Park and Cycle – Beat the queues and get fit!

Temporary Park and Cycle
– Guardbridge to St Andrews, Saturday 2nd August to 18th August 2014

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Finance staff piloting the new Park & Cycle scheme

Staff will be aware of the travel delays that will be caused by imminent roadworks at the bridge crossing of the River Eden, Guardbridge. The University understands that the works will be for two weeks from Saturday 2nd August 2014 to Monday 18th August 2014. During this two week period, a temporary park and cycle facility will be established at the University’s Guardbridge site, Monday to Friday of each week. The system will work as follows:

Car Parking

Staff can park their cars in the open, unfenced car park owned by the University, located on Main Street, just past the Mill Clock on the right hand side as you come from Leuchars. The car park is directly adjacent to the National Cycle Path that leads to St Andrews. The cycle path will not be affected by the roadworks as it crosses the River Eden using the old road bridge and the Old St Andrews Road. The cycle journey takes between 20 and 30 minutes – ish! The attached plan shows the location of the car park, the cycle route and the cycle parking.

Staff can of course take their bikes home with them if their cars are equipped for easy transport of bikes.

Cycle Parking

Staff can make use of two cycle racks that have been provided in the ‘lean-to’ covered shed which is located through the main entrance of the main Guardbridge site just beyond the site office portakabin. For operational reasons, cycle parking will be strictly available between 8am and 6pm during the two weeks of the road works. Before and after these times, the main site gates are closed. So staff will only be able to retrieve and deposit bikes between 8am and 6pm sharp. Cycles should be securely locked by their owner.

MapGuardbridge – Park & Cycle Map

 

Disclaimer

CCTV cameras are in operation but as always, cycles must be securely locked and the University cannot be held responsible for any theft of or damage to cycles, equipment or vehicles located in the shed or in the car park.

 Queries:

Contact Roddy Yarr, Environment and Energy Manager, x3995; try@

Creative Engineering students visit Guardbridge & Kenly

This summer, 24 students from the South China University of Technology are visiting St Andrews to take part in a three-week long course on “Creativity in Engineering”, which has a stong focus on renewables and sustainable energy practices. At the end of their three weeks, the students must present their ideas for how the University of St Andrews can reduce its non-renewable energy usage, and help us reach our ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2016!

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To help them out, David and Roddy from the Environment Team gave a presentation last week on the measures to reduce energy consumption, and the various micro and macro renewable projects that are currently ongoing within the University. The main two projects are the community wind project at Kenly Farm, and the biomass district heating project at Guardbridge, with students being offered the chance to visit these sites as part of their day out with the Environment Team.

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First up was Guardbridge, located four miles west of St Andrews, and home to a disused paper mill. During our visit the students learned more about the history of the mill, and how the existing structures are going to be integrated into the new biomass energy centre to make it as sustainable as possible.

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Using locally procured chipped wood, the new biomass boiler will annually produce 34.3 GWh of heat which will then be pumped to St Andrews via a 6km long pipeline to heat our buildings, saving 8,000 tonnes of carbon compared to our current heating process!

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After a quick tour of the buildings we headed over to Kenly Farm, a piece of land that has been owned by the university for the last 600 years, and was once home to an airfield. Although the 6 turbines have not yet been built, it was very clear that this will be an excellent site for them based on the winds we experienced on our visit! These turbines will allow the university to take control of its energy production and reduce its carbon emissions by a further 19,000 tonnes per year, bringing us even closer to carbon neutrality.

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 The students were really engaged with the topic of renewables, and asked many articulate and insightful questions throughout our day together. Needless to say, we were very impressed with their knowledge on the subject, and can’t wait to see what they come up with for their project proposals at the end of the course!

 To find out more about Guardbridge and Kenly, check out our videos here and here.

University plans £25 million green energy centre at Guardbridge paper mill site

(Originally issued by the University of St Andrews Press Office on Friday 20 December 2013)

 

Backed by a £10 million grant from the Scottish Funding Council which is supporting carbon reduction schemes across Scottish Higher Education, the university proposes to generate power through clean biomass at Guardbridge and pump hot water 4 miles underground to St Andrews to heat and cool its labs and residences.

 

Alongside recently approved plans for a six-turbine wind power development at Kenly to the east of St Andrews, the Guardbridge scheme will support a strategic drive by St Andrews to become the United Kingdom’s first carbon-neutral university.

 

The green energy produced on site and at Kenly will help the University protect jobs and ward off the effects of rapidly rising external energy prices. Although St Andrews has managed to cut its power consumption in recent years, energy prices have been continually hiked by the big power companies, representing a major threat to investment in front line teaching and research.

 

Now it’s hoped the plans for Guardbridge will boost efforts to revitalise the giant site and bring new investment in renewable technologies and new industry to Fife. The investment of at least £25 million in Guardbridge is expected to support new employment in the Fife village. Thebiomass facility will use only virgin roundwood, locally sourced from sustainable forests.

 

In addition to the energy centre, the University also hopes to establish a Knowledge Exchange Hub to provide “missing link” facilities which would allow research and discoveries made in university labs to be translated to working prototypes. The Centre will also offer affordable accommodation to local companies, with the aim of attracting businesses and skills linked to the renewables sector.

 

Subject to planning permission, the Guardbridge site will be renamed the Sustainable Power and Research Campus (SPARC), work will start onsite in 2014 with the Renewable Energy Centre complete and operational by December 2015.

 

St Andrews expects to apply to Fife Council for planning permission before the end of the year and will carry out open public consultation on its proposals, including public meetings and drop-in sessions in Guardbridge and St Andrews.

 

Since it acquired the vacant site in 2010, the University has met regularly with Guardbridge Community Council and local members of Fife Council.

 

University Quaestor and Factor Derek Watson said:

 

“It has taken us much longer than we originally anticipated to crystallise our thinking on a Renewable Energy Centre and we are grateful for the patience and encouragement shown to us by the local community over the last three years.

 

“We are also very grateful to the Scottish Funding Council for supporting our vision of carbon neutrality with a very significant investment of £10 million.

 

“Guardbridge represents a major strategic step for the University. We are committed to becoming carbon neutral and this large industrial site lends itself to the creation of a range of renewable energies which are vital to our efforts to remain one of Europe’s leading research institutions.

 

“There is also an ideal opportunity to establish a Knowledge Exchange Centre for spin-out, local companies seeking affordable accommodation and for prototype testing.

 

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

 

“We will consult closely with the community as our plans take shape.”

Students Tour Future Guardbridge Biomass Energy Centre

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The Guardbridge site includes many former buildings used in the paper milling process which will be converted into a biomass energy centre.

Today we led over a dozen interested students on a special tour of the former Guardbridge paper mill, which is set to host one of the University’s two new macro scale renewable energy installations, the Guardbridge Biomass Energy Centre.

The second macro renewables project is Kenly Wind Farm which was recently given approval in October, 2013.

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Dr Roddy Yarr explains plans for the site before leading students around existing buildings.

The Guardbridge site, located just 4 miles from St Andrews, is a former industrial paper mill which closed its doors in 2008. Soon after, the University purchased the site with designs for creating a biomass energy plant in order to reduce rising carbon emissions and ever increasing energy rates.

The biomass plant, currently in the design stage, will burn woodchips from the undesirables left after commercial logging sourced locally within a 50km radius. Woodchips, which absorb CO2 during their lifecycles, are burned in a boiler to heat hot water. The hot water is then pumped from Guardbridge to the University’s North Haugh campus, with only a small percentage of heat loss along the way within the insulated piping. From there the hot water is integrated into the current heating systems to provide warmth to all University buildings in that area.

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Students saw how the biomass plant is to be fuelled from local sources of renewable waste timber, which is chipped before entering the boiler.

Students were led on a walking tour through the old paper mill buildings conducted by the University’s Environment and Energy Manager, Dr Roddy Yarr. The group saw live wood chipping as part of a noise test for the mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) associated with planning permissions.

Dr Roddy Yarr helped explain how these facilities – once complete – will not only provide renewable energy directly to the University, but will also support the local timber industry and farmers, and set a precedent for other University and public sector bodies by demonstrating how an ambitious carbon neutral plan can be achieved in practice.

Judging by the success of today’s tour we are considering running another tour in semester 2 for those still interested in learning about the project up close. You can register your interest by email environment@st-andrews.ac.uk – we will be in touch with further updates.

Logs of little use for making timber products are perfect for chipping and fuelling a biomass plant.

Logs of little use for making timber products are perfect for chipping and fuelling a biomass plant.

Check out additional student coverage of the tour below.

The Saint feature article: http://www.thesaint-online.com/2013/11/estates-shows-the-the-saint-around-the-universitys-guardbridge-energy-centre/

The Conscious Student blog: http://theconsciousstudent.com/2013/11/21/a-tour-of-the-guardbridge-biomass-plant-site/