Text: Lill Christensen, Campus Service. Translation: LeeAnn Iovanni, AAU Communication.
Photo: Emilie Bach Pedersen.
For students or staff members at AAU, it is extremely important to have enough electrical outlets in the classroom and in the office. Most of us don't think about where the electricity is coming from because as long as there's power in the outlet, all is well.
But as of this year, electricity will be not only functional, but also sustainable. At the beginning of 2020, AAU invested in green power from Danish wind turbines to positive effect on AAU's overall CO2 emissions. An investment that goes hand in hand with the new AAU sustainability policy that aims to integrate environmental, economic and social sustainability at all levels of strategic and operational activities at the university.
The investment also means that AAU is helping to increase the demand for green power, thus supporting the development of more climate-friendly energy production. This is in line with the sustainability policy’s vision to work with partners who contribute to sustainable development and promote sustainable development in conjunction with local, national and global actors.
AAU buys energy certificates that help develop renewable energy installations to meet the requirement that 50 percent of green electricity must come from wind farms less than 5 years old.
Green synergy across education, research and operations
The green investment in operations reflects the education and research side of AAU where the focus is on the green transition and problem solving in terms of global challenges. With initiatives like this investment, campus operations supports the sustainability research that staff and students are doing on a daily basis. It is an important synergy that unites the organisation across operations and education.
- We focus on the sustainable development of our operations, which is why we are now investing in green power. The investment not only provides value in operations, but also has a direct effect on the green bottom line, which we know creates value for both staff and students, says University Director Antonino Castrone.
- We have researchers at AAU who develop, build and test new, more efficient electronics for wind turbines to increase the power and security of supply. All for the benefit of the green transition. Denmark occupies a leading position on the wind energy world market, and as a university we play a crucial role in ensuring that Denmark can continue the positive trend in renewable energy, says AAU Rector Per Michael Johansen.
Transition impacts AAU's CO2 emissions
A transition from conventional to green energy has a noticeable effect on the CO2 balance sheet. With AAU's nearly 20,000 users (2018 figures), the campus is comparable to a city like Skanderborg, which means a lot for the decision to invest in more sustainable energy.
But converting from conventional to green energy is not an initiative that stands alone. For many years, Campus Service has worked strategically to reduce Aalborg University's energy consumption through energy optimisation in areas like lighting sources, building renovations and general campus planning. Such initiatives have meant a systematic decrease in energy consumption on campus, interrupted only by a few years where weather and heat resulted in higher consumption.
In 2019, total energy consumption was just under 17,500,000 KWh per year, which, according to the Danish Energy Agency, equates to 3710 tonnes of CO2 emissions before the purchase of green power (calculated on the Danish Energy Agency website, CO2 emissions per kWh sold).
By comparison, according to politiken.dk, an average Dane emitted 12 tonnes of CO2 per year in 2019 (politiken.dk, 5 February 2019).
The transition to green energy thus has substantial significance for both AAU operations and the university as a whole, as well as for the world that AAU is a part of. As a key societal player, it is natural that AAU operations focus on the green bottom line and consider sustainable changes to operations that will support an AAU where sustainability is a major aspect of research, education and operations.