Funding secured for green energy centre

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After months of searching, funding has been secured for a £25 million green energy center at the University of St Andrews’ Gaurdbridge site.

The project is expected to create 225 new jobs for the area. Additionally, it is hoped that the site will provide apprenticeships and training opportunities during the construction of the centre.

This money has been obtained in 3 ways. The University has taken out an additional £11 million pound loan from the Scottish partnership for Regeneration in Urban Centers Fund; this is a joint initiative with the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund. The final funding will come from the Scottish Funding Council who is adding £10 million to the grant and the University itself will add £4 million to the pot.

The project is part of an initiative by the University to become the UK’s first carbon neutral university.

The biomass facility will use only virgin round wood which will be locally sourced from forests. Hot water from the plant will be circulated and pumped underground to heat and cool University buildings such as halls of residence.

It coincides with another of the University’s ongoing sustainable energy projects; the creation of Kenly Windfarm. Though the University was granted permission by the Scottish Government to go  ahead with this project in October 2013, no firm steps towards constructing it have been taken. An announcement was made in September of last year that the University was seeking a development partner for the windfarm, but there is no sign that a partner has been found.

The University’s chief operating officer, Derek Watson, said: “Guardbridge represents a major strategic step for the University. This large industrial site lends itself to the creation of a range of renewable energies, which are vital for our efforts to remain one of Europe’s leading research institutions.

“We believe the diverse range of potential uses for Guardbridge has the capacity to re-establish this huge site as a key economic centre in Fife.”

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said: “The construction of the Guardbridge energy centre will act as a springboard for the regeneration of the village, which will provide an economic boost for the wider Fife economy.

“The centre’s projected carbon savings will help the environment and the local area will benefit from the university’s commitment to job creation and apprenticeships.”

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