Geothermal energy for Britain's universities

As Igne embarks on its latest open loop installation at the University of Warwick, our Director of Water Wells, Ben Cornish, explains why harnessing geothermal energy can be the right solution for UK’s tertiary education establishments for many reasons.

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Why Igne’s geothermal energy solutions are a sustainable way for Britain's universities to decarbonise

As the world contends with the pressing need to address climate change, institutions are increasingly seeking innovative and sustainable solutions to reduce their own carbon footprint.

Britain's universities, as bastions of knowledge and progress, can lead the way by adopting ground-source geothermal heat to retroactively decarbonise their campuses.

This forward-thinking approach not only aligns with global efforts to combat climate change, but also positions these institutions as attractive choices for conscientious students who prioritise environmental responsibility.

The power of geothermal energy explained

Geothermal energy comes from the Earth's own internal heat, providing a reliable and renewable source of power.  By harnessing this energy, universities can significantly reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and contribute to the global transition to cleaner energy sources.

Ground-sourced geothermal heat involves extracting heat from the Earth's crust through a network of pipes buried beneath the surface – known as closed loop.  Alternatively it can be captured from below ground aquifers via two or more vertically drilled boreholes – known as open loop.

This heat can then be used to warm buildings, produce hot water, and even generate electricity, making it a versatile and sustainable solution for universities aiming to decarbonise.  The heat pump technology also works in reverse to cool in the hot summer months.

Retrofitting for sustainability

The beauty of ground-source geothermal heat lies in its adaptability.  Existing university campuses can retrofit their infrastructure to harness this energy source without compromising the aesthetic or functionality of the buildings.  And where space is limited or precious, an open loop solution is ideal as it hardly takes over any surface area. 

Retroactive fitting involves installing the necessary geothermal infrastructure beneath the ground, either vertically or horizontally, to tap into the Earth's heat.  This process can be seamlessly integrated into existing heating and cooling systems, providing a cost-effective and efficient way to transition towards sustainability.

Attracting conscientious students

Today's students are increasingly environmentally conscious, and their choice of educational institutions can reflect this commitment to sustainability.  By embracing ground-source geothermal heat, universities not only demonstrate their dedication to mitigating climate change but also create a unique selling point for prospective students.

Institutions that actively participate in the fight against climate change are likely to attract a growing demographic of students who seek an education aligned with their values and a campus that prioritises environmental responsibility.

Benefits beyond carbon reduction

The advantages of adopting ground-source geothermal heat extend beyond carbon reduction.  Universities can enjoy long-term cost savings on energy bills, as geothermal systems are known for their efficiency and low operational costs.

Additionally, these systems require minimal maintenance compared to traditional heating and cooling systems, perhaps freeing up resources for other sustainability initiatives.

As Britain's universities face the imperative to decarbonise, ground-source geothermal heat emerges as a pragmatic and eco-friendly solution.  The retrofitting of existing infrastructure provides a feasible way for institutions to transition towards sustainability while simultaneously attracting environmentally conscious students.

By leading the charge in adopting innovative technologies, universities can become pioneers in the global movement towards a carbon-neutral future, setting an example for other sectors to follow suit.

At Igne, we have extensive experience and expertise in delivering geothermal energy projects, even in challenging geology.  And we commend both Cambridge University and the University of Warwick for trusting us to install their geothermal solutions.  Talk to us to discover whether your institution could also embrace this sustainable solution and benefit significantly.