The University of Sheffield are set to switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity for the first time, Forge Press understands.

The public announcement is expected this afternoon, and comes after Sheffield University signed new electricity contracts with Bryt Energy, ensuring their purchased supply will be sourced completely from renewable sources.

Harry Carling, the SU Development Officer, praised the University’s switch, as well as paying tribute to a number of climate-focused student groups for pushing it to “the top of the University’s agenda”.

Renewable energy will now be used to supply the University’s buildings, including the central campus, residences such as the student villages, and University facilities further afield, such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) on the Sheffield/Rotherham border.

This represents a victory for the ‘UoS Energy Switch’ campaign, made up of students and staff, which has consistently urged the University to switch to a clean energy supplier. As it stands, electricity accounts for more than half of on-campus emissions in Sheffield, and they say the new, renewable, supply will reduce emissions by as much as 17,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Read more: All face-to-face University of Sheffield teaching suspended due to coronavirus pandemic

This is part of wider efforts by the University to try to become carbon neutral.

“We are absolutely committed to addressing climate change via our research, our education and our institutional actions,” Vice-Chancellor Professor Koen Lamberts said of the soon-to-be-announced switch.

“Switching to a 100 per cent renewable electricity contract is an important step in our sustainability work and follows our work to completely divest from fossil fuels and incorporate sustainable development into our education. 

“We look forward to working closely with our students and staff on the next phase of our sustainable development.”

SU Development Officer Harry Carling has made climate justice a big part of his platform this year. (Image: Forge Media.

Meanwhile, SU Development Officer Harry spoke of his pride in those who have fought for the University to implement this change.

“It is so important that we have a University that values our student voice, and this is particularly important when talking about environmental issues. I’m exceptionally proud of our student-led Clean Energy Switch Campaign and Sustainability Committee, who have done an incredible job in making sure this issue has been pushed to the top of the agenda in the University.

“The University of Sheffield has set an example to the rest of the higher education sector, and organisations around the world. It is now the responsibility of others to follow.”

This is the latest victory for climate campaigners at the University of Sheffield, as last year they pressured University management to finally divest from fossil fuels, more than three years after they said they would.

It was revealed by Forge Press that despite announcing in late 2015 that they would divest completely from fossil fuels, the University still had stakes in three companies who derived a portion of their income from fossil fuels.

Following pressure from students, the University committed once again to full divestment, and in April last year, confirmed that they had achieved just that, representing a win for students.

Climate justice has been a key issue for the Students’ Union and its members throughout this academic year, with Harry Carling leading three marches alongside staff through the city since September, as well as the SU closing its doors for a ‘climate strike’ in September, in solidarity with campaigners around the world.

Image: Juliet Cookson

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