The electricity that powers the University of Minnesota Morris campus is now completely carbon neutral, the school reported. UMN Morris credits an onsite community-scale energy platform with helping the university reach this milestone.
About 60% of the campus’ power comes from two 1.65-megawatt wind turbines that the University of Minnesota owns, which produce more than 10 million kilowatts of power annually. Several solar photovoltaic systems and a back-pressure steam-turbine at the biomass gasification plant generate additional energy, according to the school.
Last year Environment America ranked UMN Morris number one among American schools that produce renewable electricity on their own campuses. Electricity per full-time equivalency student was 10.0 MMBtu at UMN Morris in 2019.
The university worked with electricity provider Otter Tail Power Company (OTP) on carbon neutrality. Around 70% of the campus electricity comes from renewable sources, including power produced onsite and purchases from OTP, school said.
About half of the wind-generated electricity from the two onsite wind turbines supplies the campus, and the other half goes into the local power grid, the university noted.
“In partnership with OTP and support of private giving from donors and friends, the campus now owns additional renewable energy credits (RECs) in an amount equal to the fossil-fuel produced electricity the campus purchases,” UMN Morris said. “The RECs are generated from the UMN wind turbines.”
Troy Goodnough, the university’s sustainability director, told the Duluth News Tribune recently that those RECs made a difference. “Being able to access those renewable energy credits from our own project is really cool,” he said. “That’s a big part of how we got over the finish line.”
The newspaper reported that the university’s longer-term goal is to become completely carbon neutral by eliminating or balancing emissions from energy use including heating buildings, refrigeration, and transportation.