Leiden University is in the process of transitioning from one energy source to another: fossil fuels have to make way for sustainable energy from sunlight, water and wind.
The University aims to achieve this energy transition by three different means: in the first place by reducing energy consumption, but also by producing and sourcing sustainable energy. The University will actively work within the terms of the Energy Agreement signed by government, societal institutions and commercial partners. This agreement encourages organisations to broaden their energy efficiency and to increase the proportion of sustainable energy that they consume.
Long-term agreements on Energy
Like all other Dutch universities, Leiden University has signed the Long Term Agreement on Energy (MJA3). The participants work together with the MJA3 to achieve the objectives set out in the Energy Agreement. Leiden University has committed to improve its energy efficiency by 2 per cent per year up to 2020. To fulfil this obligation the University will write an Energy Efficiency Plan (EEP) every four years detailing the measures taken and the objectives still to be obtained. In 2016, a new EEP was drawn up for the period from 2017 to 2020.
Leiden University consumes around 45,000 MWh of electricity every year. The level has remained almost constant over recent years. As the number of students and staff is increasing, this means that the electricity consumption per student and per member of staff is reducing.
Every year Leiden University compensates the use of grey energy by buying Guarantees of Origin. These certificates, which show that green energy has been produced, stimulate the production of sustainable electricity. In 2016 the first certificates for Dutch wind energy were bought, thus promoting the generation of sustainable energy in the Netherlands. The University also produces energy itself using solar cells that were installed on the roof of the Plexus Student Centre in 2013. The energy produced amounts to around 0.03 per cent of the total energy usage. A subsidy was also obtained in2016 for installing solar panels on four University buildings. Although this may seem to be a negligible contribution, it nonetheless has symbolic value for the University's environmental policy.
Leiden uses around 5 million M3 of natural gas a year. Natural gas is used by Leiden University mainly for heating, with a small amount being used in research. The climate is one of the biggest factors impacting the amount of gas consumed. In 2014 the CO2 emissions from the use of natural gas accounted for 44 per cent of the CO2 footprint. A bid was started in 2016 to make gas consumption more sustainable with effect from 2017.
There are a number of alternatives for the use of natural gas for heating, including the use of natural and solar heat. Geothermal heating is a means of storing residual heat in the summer in order to use it in the winter. This can prove very efficient; the consumption of natural gas is expected to reduce by 20 per cent once the first phase of the Science Campus, where geothermal heating is used, is complete. In 2016 a study was made of the possibilities for applying geothermal storage in the Humanities Campus.
To date the University has bought international Guarantees of Origin from foreign suppliers in order to compensate for the CO2 emissions resulting from electricity consumption. However, this does not stimulate the production of sustainable electricity in the home country. Leiden University has bought Guarantees of Origin for the Netherlands. The University has also obtained a subsidy to install solar panels on four buildings.
Leiden University intends to reduce the consumption of natural gas by using geothermal heating. To compensate for CO2 emissions from gas consummption, the University will make the annual consumption more sustainable by buying Voluntary Emission Rights, that entitle the holder to emit a certain amount of greenhouse gases.
In 2016 a new Energy Efficiency Plan was drawn up for the period from 2017 to 2020. Guarantees of Origin for wind energy produced in the Netherlands were procured for 2016. The University has acquired a grant to install solar panels on four University buildings. A procurement bid was started to make gas consumption more sustainable with effect from 2017. In 2016 the possibilities were also explored for applying the use of geothermal energy for the Humanities Campus.