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Carbon Reduction Plan

Scopes 1 & 2

Approved by Sustainability and Resources 13 June 2023. This plan replaces the plan approved by Sustainability and Resources Committee 22 November 2022

This plan has been updated for the actual emissions for 2022-23. A fully revised plan will be published in November 2024, covering the impact of the new Student Village, which received planning permission in March 2024 and is due to open in September 2026.

What has changed in this plan?

A low carbon source of hot water, supplied via the Stoke District Heat Network, is now emerging as a viable solution. It could come on-line before 2030, and would replace the gas-fired boilers located mainly on College Road and could represent a substantial reduction in carbon emissions compared to burning gas to heat water. This is a more efficient and effective solution which will require less capital expenditure by the University on infrastructure than the previously proposed plan to convert to air-source heat pumps.

Sub-metering of electricity consumption for all buildings is now in place.

Objectives

In 2022, the University published a target of achieving Carbon Net Zero for Scopes 1 and 2 (energy consumed on site) by 2030. 

This is one of the University’s headline KPIs.  Milestone KPIs were also published for the years between 2022 and 2027 in line with the University’s strategic planning horizon.

environmentally-friendly

What are we trying to achieve?

This plan focusses on the reduction of Scopes 1 and 2 emissions.

Scope 1 emissions originate from the University’s direct burning of fossil fuels to create energy, which at the moment includes gas-fired boilers used to generate heat and the gas-fired Combined Heat and Power plant (in the Science Centre) used to generate both electricity and heat.  Scope 1 also includes fuel for the University’s on-campus service vehicles (most of which have now been replaced with electric-powered vehicles) and the gases which leak from the air-conditioning units which we have on campus, but the main source of scope 1 emissions is currently the burning of gas.

Scope 2 emissions are the emissions released off-site through the generation of electricity from fossil-based sources (ie coal and gas-fired power stations), which is supplied through the national grid.  At the moment, within the UK, about 50% of the electricity supplied through the national grid releases carbon and other green house gas emissions (but we tend to use carbon as a simpler way of conveying the scale of emissions).  The remaining 50% is generated from renewable sources (mostly wind, solar and nuclear sources).

In order to reduce scope 1 and 2 emissions to zero, the main ways of achieving this are to stop using gas as a fuel source, to source electricity from external renewable sources and to generate electricity from on-site renewable sources (mostly solar).  This plan sets out, in more detail, how this could be achieved.

Where it is not possible to eliminate all scope 1 and 2 emissions, off-setting may be used.  Historically off-setting has meant organisations paying for off-site regeneration projects which involve planting trees (which remove carbon from the atmosphere as they grow), however these sorts of projects are now being replaced by the purchase of carbon offsets which pay for new sources of renewable energy to be built, therefore reducing the issue at source.  The University would use the latter type.

How potentially effective is this plan?

This Carbon Reduction plan, which includes a limited amount of off-setting, would achieve the objective of Carbon Net Zero by 2030.  The University will continue to work to reduce carbon emissions by all possible means to avoid off-setting.  Key to this carbon reduction plan are the Estates Masterplan and the costings for the work to be done to achieve the reductions in carbon.  The financial consequences of developing the Masterplan and the costs of the additional measures are incorporated into the University’s long-term strategic financial plan.

What is the overall approach?

What are we trying to achieve?

This plan focusses on the reduction of Scopes 1 and 2 emissions.

Scope 1 emissions originate from the University’s direct burning of fossil fuels to create energy, which at the moment includes gas-fired boilers used to generate heat and the gas-fired Combined Heat and Power plant (in the Science Centre) used to generate both electricity and heat.  Scope 1 also includes fuel for the University’s on-campus service vehicles (most of which have now been replaced with electric-powered vehicles) and the gases which leak from the air-conditioning units which we have on campus, but the main source of scope 1 emissions is currently the burning of gas.

Scope 2 emissions are the emissions released off-site through the generation of electricity from fossil-based sources (ie coal and gas-fired power stations), which is supplied through the national grid.  At the moment, within the UK, about 50% of the electricity supplied through the national grid releases carbon and other green house gas emissions (but we tend to use carbon as a simpler way of conveying the scale of emissions).  The remaining 50% is generated from renewable sources (mostly wind, solar and nuclear sources).

In order to reduce scope 1 and 2 emissions to zero, the main ways of achieving this are to stop using gas as a fuel source, to source electricity from external renewable sources and to generate electricity from on-site renewable sources (mostly solar).  This plan sets out, in more detail, how this could be achieved.

Where it is not possible to eliminate all scope 1 and 2 emissions, off-setting may be used.  Historically off-setting has meant organisations paying for off-site regeneration projects which involve planting trees (which remove carbon from the atmosphere as they grow), however these sorts of projects are now being replaced by the purchase of carbon offsets which pay for new sources of renewable energy to be built, therefore reducing the issue at source.  The University would use the latter type.

How potentially effective is this plan?

This Carbon Reduction plan, which includes a limited amount of off-setting, would achieve the objective of Carbon Net Zero by 2030.  The University will continue to work to reduce carbon emissions by all possible means to avoid off-setting.  Key to this carbon reduction plan are the Estates Masterplan and the costings for the work to be done to achieve the reductions in carbon.  The financial consequences of developing the Masterplan and the costs of the additional measures are incorporated into the University’s long-term strategic financial plan.

What is the overall approach?

Overall approach

The University’s approach to carbon reduction for scopes 1 and 2 energy consumption over the next ten years can be summarised as follows:

  • Reduce consumption of energy
  • Generate more electricity from on-site renewable sources, eg Photovoltaic cells on roofs added to both new construction and refurbished buildings
  • Eliminate gas as a source of heating by joining the Stoke District Heat Network in the future
  • Enter into an incremental series of contracts (for electricity supply) called Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with energy suppliers which can be certified as coming from additional renewable sources.  These will need to be considered in association with point 5.
  • Keep a watching brief on the potential for electricity to be supplied from a new waste-to-energy facility proposed by Stoke City Council and which could come on stream before 2030
  • Assume that decarbonisation of the grid will also contribute to a significant reduction in carbon emissions, subject to Government policy and investment

Carbon off-setting is not actively considered as a primary route to carbon reduction and would only be considered as a back-up, when all other options have been explored.

This plan is closely related to the Energy Management plan which looks at consumption as well as the source of energy at an operational level.

Establishing a baseline in 2022

The University commissioned a report from MACE (external consultants) in 2021.  MACE verified the Scope 1 and 2 calculations which the University had previously been relying upon when reporting emissions data to the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) annual survey of estates costs (the Estates Management Record survey) as being broadly accurate and estimated building-specific emissions for the first time.

At the time, a series of interventions were identified which led to the setting of the following annual milestone targets which have been published in the University Strategy 2022-27.

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Targets and results for total Scope 1 and 2 emissions (tCO2e)
 2021-22 (actual result)  4226
 2022-23 (actual result)  4031
 2023-24  3623
 2024-25  3559
 2025-26  3206
 2026-27  2628

The majority of emissions (stated in terms of tonnes of CO2 emitted) come from gas and electricity consumed in order to provide heat, light and power for facilities and equipment.  A very small proportion comes from fuel consumed by on-campus support vehicles and leakage of coolant from air conditioning units.


Progress to date

All electricity and gas consumption is monitored monthly as part of the University’s membership of the HE sector’s energy purchasing consortium The Energy Consortium (TEC) to support the specialist procurement and management of electricity and gas contracts.  As already mentioned above, the University reports its emissions annually through the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) annual survey of estates costs – the Estates Management Record survey (EMR).  This is a not a compulsory requirement. 

Total consumption and emissions
   2017-18  2018-19 2019-20   2020-21  2021-22
 Total energy consumption of estate (gas + electricity) (MWh)  22.0  20.7  19.3  19.0 20.1 
 Total Scope 1 and 2 emissions (inc. regfrigerant leakage) (tCO2e)  6033  5012  4440  4143  4226

33% decrease in scope 1 and 2 emissions

since 2017

5% lower consumption

overall since 2017

31% reducing gas consumption

in favour of electricity and decarbonisation

Development of the estates masterplan

The estates masterplan, which supports the long-term strategy of moving teaching and learning activities to the Leek Road site, whilst developing the College Road site to support the University’s knowledge exchange activities and enterprise ecosystem, potentially within a mixed-use setting.

Appendix 1 shows the potential development of the two sites

Appendix 2 provides a list of the current buildings on those sites, their age, method of heating, and the short and long term proposals for their management.

Cost of interventions

The costs of executing this plan have been included in the University’s strategic financial plan to 2027. Expenditure of £3.5m is included in the University’s strategic financial plan for 2023- 2027. Further expenditure is also assumed after 2027 which is estimated to be around £10m.

Final thoughts

Carbon reduction is assumed to be an integral part of the University’s Strategic Plan and the development of the Estates Masterplan assumes that all developments within the estate must contribute not only to the Teaching and Learning, Research, Enterprise and Innovation, but also to the achievement of Carbon Net Zero for scopes 1 and 2 by 2030.


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