Kenly Windfarm Approval!

View of wind turbines from Boarhills.

View of wind turbines from Boarhills.

Well it’s been a long time in the coming – and finally, last friday we heard back that the University’s planning proposal for the construction of 6 wind turbines on a University-owned property at the outskirts of St Andrews has been given the go ahead by the Scottish Government.

Roddy Yarr, the University’s Environment and Energy Manager, explains the vision and the benefits that drive this project forward.

LOGO- smaller“Kenly will reduce our carbon emissions by 19,000 tonnes per annum, helping us to achieve our goal of becoming carbon neutral for energy by 2016. The wind farm will generate an inward investment of more than £20M and a community benefit of £1.2M over the life of the project. It will provide local construction and maintenance jobs and help secure jobs at the University.

“The University is also developing a low carbon energy centre at Guardbridge that will provide heat from locally sourced and sustainable biomass, solar thermal and ground sources for the North Haugh buildings and save 12,000 tonnes of carbon. These two projects are visionary and proof that we understand our responsibilities with respect to climate change and the sustainable supply and management of energy costs.

“There have been no statutory consultee objections to Kenly. It is our contention that based on the results of our Environmental Impact Assessment, Kenly complies with the Development Plan and is aligned with UK and Scottish Government energy policy. The development of a wind farm that directly powers world leading research and teaching at this University will be a step change towards protecting the institution from escalating fossil fuel prices. On this scale, it will be a first in the UK higher education sector.”

Copy of proposed windfarm layout: site plan layout f5.6 Proposed Windfarm Layout

Check out a full interview with Roddy Yarr taken back in 2011 while the planning application was still underway: http://environmentsta.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/musings-of-a-windfarmer/

Electric Vehicles Impress

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Front profile of the new Nissan Leaf EV

What would your commute feel like in an electric vehicle?

To find out the answer I met with the University’s Electrochemistry PhD researcher Euan McTurk to discuss his vintage Peugeot 106 electric vehicle (“EV” to the uninitiated) which he has been using on his commute from Dundee to St Andrews.

After thirteen years of TLC his 106 still works like a charm, and surprisingly, is very fast off the line! Recently he replaced the original nickel-cadmium battery with a new lithium ion pack which takes him 60 miles per charge – well more than enough to cover the distance there and back.  Euan had the option to fit larger pack that offers a range of over 100 miles but found that the smaller pack was sufficient for his needs.

Euan discusses ‘EV etiquette’, a phase he uses to refer to the particular issues of being an EV owner. For example, while out on our test drive around town, we stopped at the new electric charging station in Argyle Streetcar park. With only two available spaces for electric vehicles at the charger, Euan reminds me that EV users must be respectful of others and avoid parking at public chargers for longer than they need to so as not to cause others to wait at the charger for extended periods. This is only rarely an issue however, as I soon learn that a rapid charger can replenish a battery in as little as 20 minutes – comparable even to waiting in line at a petrol station!

“Nissan Leaf – best car I’ve ever driven”

Euan has a passion for all things electric and is quick to update me on the improvements in EV technology and design since his 106 version originally came out in 1995. While a number of new models are in production, Euan highly recommends the Nissan Leaf line which comes equipped with the latest comforts and tech – compromising nothing, while gaining impressive EV credentials that blow hybrids out of the water! In fact the fellow EV we met at the charging point was one of a fleet of Nissan Leafs used by Fife Council.

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The new electric charging point for St Andrews located in Argyle Street carpark

Why choose an electric vehicle?

With no operating pollution from exhaust (thus no emissions of CO2, nitrogen and sulphur oxides, or other gases emitted by a convenient petrol engine that contribute to global warming, smog, and pollution), and no reliance on fossil fuels (if using renewably sourced electricity) and the economic and political controversies associated with oil production, EV’s are one of the greenest forms of transport. These are huge benefits that if replicated on a large scale have the potential for making a dramatic influence on society-wide ecological and carbon footprints.

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Electrochemistry PhD researcher Euan McTurk takes us for a testride in his vintage Peugeot 106 electric vehicle

Top tips for going electric

During my hour with Euan I realised there are few downsides to EV’s and many benefits. Here are some to keep in mind when you consider test driving an EV for your next car!

Pros

  • Excellent environmental credentials: Euan reckons that even the footprint of building and running a new EV is several tonnes less than the footprint of using an existing petrol car over the 8+yrs of the EV battery’s lifetime,
  • Great new models to choose from with all the latest comforts and tech,
  • Falling prices of EV’s as the market increases and technology improves,
  • Better technology, especially with regards to battery lifetime and charge – meaning you can go further, recharge quicker, and increase overall efficiency.
  • Vastly reduced running costs versus petrol and diesel cars; Euan’s commute, which uses 100% electricity from renewable energy, costs £1 per day, saving him £700 a year on fuel costs alone, and more when you factor in the free car tax and reduced maintenance bills!

Cons

  • Cost is generally higher than a similarly designed petrol car (e.g. a new Nissan Leaf goes for c£17,000) but prices are expected to continue decreasing,
  • EV’s can only take you so far before needing a recharge; luckily this is getting easier and easier as batteries become more efficient, more charging points become available (like our new charge point in St Andrews), and rapid chargers decrease charging times.  Additionally, some manufacturers give EV buyers the opportunity to borrow a petrol or diesel car for a few days a year to cover the odd trip that is outwith the range of the EV.

If you, or a friend, commute with an EV please let me know – I would love to hear about your experiences as well! (contact directly at environment@st-andrews.ac.uk)

For the latest on EV news, charging point locations, and reviews visit EV Association Scotland at http://www.eva-scotland.org/.

BSRC Building Receives A Energy Rating

The New Biomedical Sciences Research Centre (BSRC) has been awarded an A-rated energy performance certificate.

The BSRC, on which construction was recently completed, is a world-class research facility. This means that is it an energy intensive building, and so the achievement of an A-rating energy performance certificate is very unusual and a great achievement. The A-rating is the University’s first energy award of this level.

The construction of the BSRC followed strict environmental guidelines, and as a result is highly energy efficient, built with recycled materials, and houses a combined heat and power system (CHP).

At the University of St Andrews, every new build that has been constructed since 2010 follows a very high environmental standard in accordance with our Sustainable Design Guide (here). All new buildings are built to the specifications of BREEAM Excellent, a national green building classification.