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University of West London transforms campus with world’s largest PVT installation

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The University of West London has recently completed a carbon reduction project, which saw the installation of 580 solar PVT panels alongside a whole host of energy efficiency improvements. 

A key part of the new carbon reduction plan was the installation of low-emission heating and ventilation systems, backed up by solar PVT and low-energy lighting to help reduce the university’s impact on the environment. 

Work began with the removal of antiquated gas boilers to reduce nitrogen oxide pollution, which should help improve air quality around the university’s main sites in Ealing and Brentford. At the heart of the transformation is the St Mary’s Road Campus, which saw the old boilers swapped out for ground source heat pumps alongside 580 solar PVT panels. 

It’s claimed that the PVT installation is the world’s largest, with the panels and ground source heat pump working in tandem to cut the University of West London’s carbon emissions by an estimated 500 tonnes each year. In fact, according to the university, it is now capable of generating enough energy to heat an estimated 70 homes every year – or enough electricity to make as many as 4,282,560 cups of tea.

The project has been recognised as the top decarbonisation project in the higher education sector after receiving the Highly Commended award in the Energy Managers Association (EMA) Decarbonisation Project 2021 category.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter John, CBE, commented, “As a University, we are taking a leading role in our community and doing our bit to tackle the global climate crisis and build a better future.

“While there is still a long way to go, this major decarbonisation project will allow us to create our own renewable electricity and run our buildings more efficiently which is going to have a considerable impact here in West London, and further afield.”  

The ambitious retrofit covers UWL’s four sites – St Mary’s Road Campus, Vestry Hall, Drama Studio London, and Paragon House and was made possible thanks to a £5 million award from the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.  

Lord Callanan, Business and Energy Minister, commented, “Reducing emissions from public sector buildings is crucial to us reaching net zero by 2050, so it’s great to see the University of West London become more energy efficient.

“Backed by more than £5 million in government funding, the university’s decarbonisation project is a prime example of how we’re supporting the sector to implement new measures that will help us all in the fight against climate change.”

Phil Hurley, Managing Director at NIBE Energy Systems UK, which supplied the heat pumps and solar PVT, concluded, “This project sets a shining example of the benefits of combining PVT with heat pumps in delivering substantial carbon and energy savings. The PVT collector system is an alternative, innovative heat source for use with NIBE ground source heat pumps, harvesting solar energy from the sun to generate electricity while extracting aerothermal heat energy to drive the heat pump process.

“During a particularly important year for climate action, it is a real pleasure to have played a part in delivering what we believe is the largest PVT project of its kind in the world.”

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