Oxford Brookes has installed a new Geo Exchange Heating System, becoming the first UK university to do so.
Installed at the University’s Gipsy Lane location in Headington, Oxford, the new system will provide around 1.2GW of heating per year, replacing the fossil fuels which it previously used.
The system works through 14 coaxial boreholes, each of which circulates an environmentally friendly glycol in a sealed loop at depths of over 200m, which extract from and store energy in the ground. Two new heat pumps drawing power from these boreholes have been installed within Oxford Brookes’ existing systems to meet the needs of the university.
Jerry Woods, Director of Estates and Campus Services at Oxford Brookes University, said: “This innovative project demonstrates Oxford Brookes’ commitment to the global challenge of climate emergency, and the ambition of reaching net zero.
“We are very proud to be the first UK university to have this pioneering heating technology operational, which will now begin to have a huge impact on reducing our carbon footprint, and moving us towards net zero in the coming years.”
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The new system was made facilitated by a £2.3 million Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Begun in November 2021, the system, delivered in partnership with Gloucester’s Black Mountain Developments alongside Erda Energy Ltd, began working on 29 July.
Richard Ambrose, Head of Operations at Black Mountain Developments, said: “We are very proud to have worked in collaboration with Oxford Brookes University on this groundbreaking Geo-Exchange project.
“Commercial buildings are key in the UK’s response to climate change and will require complete decarbonisation if the UK is to meet its legally binding obligations to meet net zero by 2050. UK Universities are estimated to hold around 10% of our commercial estate and so the leadership that institutions like Oxford Brookes is taking to remove fossil fuels from heating and cooling services could not be more important.
“The project is more than a statement of intent, it is real world action demonstrating Black Mountain Developments, Erda Energy and Oxford Brookes’ joint passion and commitment to cutting carbon in response to the climate emergency.”