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Green Energy

'Green energy' can be produced using the power of the wind, the sun, the tides, and geothermal systems, all of which can generate electricity without the serious environmental problems associated with burning fossil fuels. The UK has, in the form of wind power, the largest green energy resource in Europe. Yet it still lags behind countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands, which already produce a significant proportion of their energy supplies using the wind.
The use of renewable energy is essential if we are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before it is too late, and demand from large energy purchasers is crucial if energy producers are to invest in green energy technology. Thankfully demand is now rising. The Climate Change Levy of 0.43 pence per KWh on fossil fuel electricity supplied to universities means that it is now becoming attractive economically, as well as environmentally, to switch to a green energy producer.




All Cambridge colleges buy electricity together in a consortium. Currently small sites are powered by Scottish & Southern Electricity (97% Green) and large sites are powered by British Gas which only provide up to 10% Green. The tender for this contract is up for renewal this summer. I think we all agree that we must campaign in colleges to get them to go as renewable as possible in these coming contract negotiations.


A motion has been written (see below) to pressurise bursars to seriously tackle the energy issue.

Along side this ‘suggestions to the energy policy’ document is being drafted. This document is intended to encourage bursars to save energy therefore offsetting the ‘green premium’. Allowing college to make the responsible decision and invest in RENEWABLE ENERGY.

However, it is also extremely important to recognise the problem of climate change as something we must all address. Switch off that light, don’t fill the kettle, DO YOUR BIT! (find out more at


CUSU Green is also involved in a campaign to


 A petition was signed by 1958 people asking the university to commit to greener energy in the future.

 A University spokesman said:

The University is pleased to accept this petition and shares CUSU's concern over and enthusiasm for so-called Green energy sources, but this must be seen in the context of a much wider programme of improvements to the levels of consumption of energy across the institution. The University is currently engaged in a three year Higher Education Carbon Management programme, working with the Carbon Trust, to set it on course for a target of a 60% cut in emissions by 2050, which will include:

Reducing heating, cooling loads in builidngs

Improving efficiency of lighting

Enhancing utility monitoring arrangements

Conserving water and

Reviewing energy supply options

It is by no means certain that an adequate supply of "green" energy will be available when the time comes to renegotiate our supplier, and it would be highly irresponsible to commit the University to any particular energy source supply at any cost when the market is so volatile, but it is very much hoped that a favourable contract will be negotiated, as part of the University's ongoing commitment to a high standard if environmental performance.

Renewable and Carbon-Neutral Electricity Motion

This motion has been written to show college authorities that the students care about, and are campaigning for renewable electricity and a reduction in carbon emissions. The motion asks college JRCs to put pressure on the bursar to reduce college carbon emissions by;

  • supporting the purchase of electricity from a renewable and carbon-neutral energy supplier, preferably one that invests in new renewable and carbon-neutral capacity.
  • committing to look into the production of renewable energy on site.
  • actively working to reduce energy wastage in college, through the encouragement of staff and students and through good site maintenance.
And to support the purchase of renewable and carbon-neutral electricity by the University.
The JPC Notes that:

1. Human-induced climate change is a reality recognised by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) comprised of hundreds of climate change scientists. The IPCC released its Third Assessment report (January 2001), predicting significant changes in climate over the next 100 years with potentially devastating effects.

2. The environmental costs of fossil fuel-derived electricity are substantial, and are not factored into current market prices. Hence carbon-neutral electricity has benefits that are not reflected in the market price.

3. All licensed electricity suppliers in the UK are being required by the UK Government, through the “Renewables Obligation (RO)”, to increase the proportion of their electricity that comes from renewable sources, such that by 2010, 10% of the UK’s electricity will come from renewable sources.

4. High-profile consumers such as the consortium of Cambridge colleges can help to stimulate the market and encourage generators to invest in green energy schemes that may exceed government targets.

5. All colleges in cambridge belong to a consortium to purchase energy. Currently there exist two contracts, for large and small sites separately; small sites are powered by Scottish & Southern Energy (97% ‘green’), large sites are powered by British Gas. On the 30th September 2006 contracts will be renewed. There is no permanent commitment renewable electricity.

6. The government introduced in April 2001 a Climate Change Levy, making it possible for some public bodies such as Cambridge University to obtain green electricity on a cost-neutral basis. In 2004 the university acquired 23% of its electricity as ‘green’ with no added cost. Cambridge colleges are in a position to take advantage of this levy and may be able to purchase green energy at a cost-neutral basis.

7. Additional financial costs incurred through the purchase of renewable and carbon-neutral electricity can be minimized through energy efficiency and savings.

8. Some renewable electricity providers invest far more in new capacity than others, and that the system of ‘Renewables Obligation Certificates’ allows some companies to provide ‘regulatory additionality’ (whereby the source of the electricity is renewable generation, additional to that required by UK legislation or regulations).

The JPC Believes;

1. That as a responsible institution, this college has a duty to reduce its carbon emissions and make a clear statement of commitment to environmental principles.

The JPC Resolves:

1. To put pressure on the Bursar to:

  • Support the purchase of electricity from renewable and carbon-neutral energy suppliers in the General Purchasing Sub-Committee of the Bursars’ Committee, with particular preference for those companies which invest in new renewable capacity.
  • Support a permanent commitment to supply the college with renewable and carbon-neutral electricity.
  • Commit to look into the options of generating renewable energy on site.
  • Work towards reducing energy consuption in college.

2. To support the procurement of renewable and carbon-neutral electricity by the University, as well as by this College.