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Gorlaeus lecture halls: biggest solar panel roof in Leiden

The roof of the lecture halls at the Faculty of Science was fitted with solar panels in June, making it the biggest solar-panel-covered roof in Leiden.

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1,242 solar panels

A total of 1,242 solar panels have been placed on the roof of the Gorlaeus building where the faculty's lecture halls are housed. The panels are expected to generate  440,000  kw of energy annually. 'The aim, which is stated in the 2016-2020 Environmental Policy Plan, is this year to generate 0.3 per cent of the total electricity used by the University ourselves,' Theo Kes, architectural project leader from the Real Estate directorate explains. 'With the current panels we are already at 1.6 per cent. That's a great result.' During 2018 solar panels wil be installed on more University buildings: the Old University Library, Pieter de la Court, Kamerlingh Onnes, Van Steenis and Willem Einthoven.

Very few roofs are suitable

That figure of 1.6 per cent doesn't seem a lot, Kes admits, but very few roofs of University buildings are suitable for solar panels. 'A roof with a lot of areas of shadow from trees or chimneys isn't suitable for solar panels. With the technology we implement, the solar panels are only as strong as the weakest link. If just one panel is in shadow, all the panels generate less energy.’

Installing the solar panels


Kes hopes that the efforts being made by the University will make students and staff more aware of how they use energy. 'It's the little things that help the most, like turning off lights and heating when you go home, or if you're the last to leave a room.' Sustainability is also high on the agenda of other real estate projects at Leiden University. 'With each project we look at all the options. A good example is the recent demolition of the old laboratories at the Faculty of Science, where 98% of the materials are re-cycled.' 

Contributing to a sustainable world

Geert de Snoo, professor of Environmental Biology and Dean of the Faculty of Science: 'In recent years the University has focused on saving gas and buying in sustainble energy.  Clean energy is currently being produced on a larger scale. It's fantastic that Leiden University is implementing one of its core values: contributing to  a more sustainable world.' 

Text & video: Sean van der Steen
Photography: Marc de Haan
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Energy consumption at Leiden University

Leiden University is aimingto reduce the use of fossil fuels and make more use of sustainable energy resources, such as solar, water and wind energy. There are three ways of doing this: by reducing our energy consumption, by generating more sustainable energy ourselves and by buying in sustainable energy. 

Leiden University consumes around 43,000 megawatt hours a year. This figure has remained more or less constant over recent years. What this means, in fact, is that the electricity consumption has been falling because the number of students and staff has been rising. The University has been getting greener in terms of energy use since 2010 by buying energy in the form of Guarantees of Origin (Dutch: GVOs). We have been buying 100 per cent of our energy via GVOs for Dutch wind energy. You can read more about energy transition at Leiden University in the 2017 Sustainability Report.

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