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Ambitious plans to significantly reduce Heriot-Watt’s carbon footprint have taken a major step forward.

The University announced today that it had secured funding to press ahead with the installation of ground mounted solar panels covering a five acre parcel of land within its Edinburgh Campus.

The project, which is being financed by a “University Carbon Reduction Fund” zero-interest loan from the Scottish Funding Council and Salix Finance, is expected to complete in 2019.

Once operational, the clean energy source will generate approximately 1,300,000 kWh of renewable electricity each year - enough to power around 370 average homes.

The news has been widely welcomed including by Dr Tadhg O'Donovan, Associate Professor at Heriot-Watt and Director of the Scottish Institute for Solar Energy Research.

He said: “The installation of 1.5MW of ground mounted solar will significantly reduce Heriot-Watt University's reliance on non-renewable forms of energy. The planning for this project shows that solar is now economically viable in Scotland, taking advantage of the long summer days and free from issues such as dusting and high temperatures that can significantly compromise yield in drier, "sunnier" climates. The installation will also serve a research purpose, providing data to verify and increase the accuracy of yield prediction algorithms in variable environmental conditions."

Chris Larkins, the University’s Environment & Energy Manager, added: “The award of the Scottish Funding Council and Salix Finance zero-interest loan, which will enable this project to go ahead, is excellent news.

“It’s an exciting scheme which should yield substantial quantities of renewable energy, reducing our reliance on grid electricity and making an important contribution towards meeting the University’s carbon reduction targets.”