University Arena Almost Doubles Solar Energy Capacity in Sustainability Drive

University of Worcester Arena - solar panel Installation - credit Spirit Energy
Solar panels on the University of Worcester Arena roof - credit Spirit Energy

The University has just completed installing a further 100kWp array of photovoltaics (solar electricity panels) along with 100kW battery storage units at the University of Worcester Arena, which is part of its Severn Campus, on Hylton Road. 

This adds to the 113kWp solar panel system installed when the building was constructed in 2012-13, generating an extra 81,728 kWh per year2, the equivalent of powering 22 homes for a year (according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s average household usage). Electrical energy generated is predominantly used in the Arena, but when it exceeds the demand in the building it is stored in the 100Wk battery system.  The stored electricity is then used in the building when demand exceeds what is being generated, enabling the building to make use of renewable energy after sunset. 

This work was funded through a £3m grant from the Worcestershire Local Economic Partnership, as part of the Government’s £900 million Getting Building Fund, for infrastructure and ‘green’ works at the University’s Severn Campus. Awarded in the summer, this has been match funded by the University. The £6m total is also being used for other modern green initiatives, demolition works and infrastructure provision, as well as initial work on the former Worcester News building which is to be to transformed into a major centre for health education, including stripping its interior and removing asbestos.

The work on increasing the solar panels is all part of the University’s drive towards greater sustainability for its campuses and facilities.

The University of Worcester, along with Worcester Students’ Union, signed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Accord in 2018, pledging officially to work towards a more sustainable future and supporting the United Nations’ internationally agreed 17 SDGs. The University has committed to reducing its carbon footprint and aims to be net zero by 2030.

This level of ambition was reflected in the University recently receiving one of the very highest scores in the UK – 90 out of 100 – in an independent report by Students Organising for Sustainability UK last year. The Carbon Targets report, done in conjunction with the National Union of Students, the University and College Union and People & Planet, placed Worcester among 27 institutions deemed to be “leading the way” in the battle to reduce carbon emissions.

Matt Smith, Energy Officer in the University’s Facilities team, said: “The University is committed to doing everything it can to increase its sustainability, both through leading by example on its campuses but also by inspiring its staff, students and the wider community.  The new solar array will help us significantly increase the amount of renewable electricity generated by the Arena’s solar panels system, supporting the University’s wider sustainability aims.”

The University has a longstanding reputation for sustainable practice and was named Sustainability Institution of the Year at the last Green Gown Awards, which led to earning a Highly Commended at the International Green Gown Awards, held at the UN last year. It was recognised again at this year’s Green Gown Awards ceremony last month in the Reporting with Influence category.

It has earned First Class Honours in the annual People and Planet green universities league for more than a decade and is ranked Number One for Quality Education in the Times Higher Education University Impact Tables, which are based on universities’ work to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.