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How does the University of Michigan generate power?

By District Energy posted 11-29-2022 15:02


The Michigan Daily


Have you ever wondered how the University of Michigan generates the power to keep the lights on after hours? The University obtains power through both on-campus generation and local utility providers such as DTE and Consumers Energy. However, this process is undergoing changes as the University moves towards carbon neutrality over the next couple of decades.

To achieve this, the University has set several goals. The University separates its emissions into three main categories — Scope 1, which includes emissions from power generated on campus; Scope 2, which includes emissions from purchased electricity; and Scope 3, which includes indirect emissions from University-sponsored activities like commuting. Based on the University’s carbon neutrality plan, the University will eliminate Scope 1 emissions by 2040 and will offset Scope 2 emissions by 2025. They have also committed to releasing more specific goals for how they plan to eliminate or offset Scope 3 emissions by 2025.

Yet the question remains: How will the University achieve these goals? Here’s a look into how electricity is consumed on the Ann Arbor campus.

The bulk of the electricity generated on-campus comes from the Central Power Plant (CPP), located adjacent to the Hill Neighborhood.“Relative to the grid mix, (the CPP) is much cleaner,” Horning said. “It’s a combined heat and power plant… the waste heat in a combined heat and power plant is captured and moved through steam tunnels to buildings all over central campus. That was the rationale both to improve the efficiency of our energy system, but also there’s a lot around resilience of the energy system supporting the medical enterprise as redundancy in case power goes out from the grid.” 

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