University’s higher degrees will be powered by trees

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A university plans to heat its campus by burning wood chips from a new managed forest.

Cranfield University has been granted funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Revolving Green Fund for a wood chip powered boiler to reduce carbon emissions on its campus.

The funding for the biomass project will be between £500,000 and £1million.

Gareth Ellis, Cranfield’s energy and environment manager, said: “This will save us over 500 tonnes of CO2 a year - a significant contribution towards our target of reducing CO2 emissions by 50%, from our 2005 level, by 2020.”

The University is committed to sourcing the biomass locally and will be exploring how the need for wood fuel can help bring local woodlands back into positive management and create new areas of woodland in the Forest of Marston Vale.

James Russell, forest director at the Forest of Marston Vale, said: “The Cranfield campus lies within 61 square miles which is being transformed to create the Forest of Marston Vale, involving planting millions of trees to increase woodland cover tenfold to 30 per cent by 2031. There’s great potential to harness this growing woodland resource to provide locally sourced biomass for the new heating system.”

The new boiler will be located in the university’s new District Heating Centre and provide an additional facility for research, learning and teaching in the area of bioenergy.

Other universities in the country will receive a similar level of funding for environmental projects.