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UConn Successfully Pursues Energy Efficiency, Even As Campus Grows

By District Energy posted 03-26-2024 14:59


UConn Today


The University of Connecticut has a smaller carbon footprint that it did 20 years ago, thanks to long-term investments and its own power plant. Now the University is hunting for ways to shrink that footprint even more.

The University’s campus in Storrs has added about a million square feet of buildings over the last two decades. Despite that, peak power consumption has plummeted from as high as 45MW in 2005 to only 27.4MW during last year’s September heatwave, thanks to efficiency measures the University adopted over the intervening 18 years.

But now electric demand is increasing as the campus grows, and the University is seeking ways to meet its needs for heat and power in more sustainable ways. It has multiple proposals from both Facilities Operations and from a student competition organized by the Eversource Energy Center.

Facilities has suggested two different proposals. The first would add two hydrogen-capable turbines to the cogeneration UConn runs for electricity and steam heat on the Storrs campus, increasing the total rating to 50MW. The existing three turbines are being retrofit to handle up to 30% hydrogen. The original cogeneration plant was built in 2006 and is fairly efficient—much more so than power from the general grid—but its expansion would have UConn continue to depend on natural gas, eventually blended with hydrogen. Facilities’ second proposal would add a connection to the grid via Eversource’s East-West line, which derives most of its electricity from the Killingly natural gas plant and a smaller portion from the Millstone nuclear plant.

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