Utrecht University wants to contribute as much as possible to the energy transition and set an inspiring example for others. The university aims to be CO2 neutral by 2030. Reducing one's own energy consumption, making good use of energy and the transition to a sustainable energy supply are important factors in achieving this goal.
Wind energy is an effective way of generating green electricity. Utrecht University is therefore conducting exploratory research into the possibility of generating its own wind energy in the Utrecht Science Park.
The first research results
The first technical research results show that one location, near the Olympos Sports Centre, seems to be unfit. The other location along the highway A28, close to the Rijnsweerd junction, seems to be able to meet all environmental standards such as noise, cast shadow and safety. Moreover, this location is far enough away from the nearest existing residential development of Rijnsweerd-Zuid. At this location there is potential space for 1 large windmill. The university is still doing a lot of research here. For example, into the possible effects of the wind turbine on scientific research equipment. The results of this research are not yet known.
What preceded the research
In an initial exploration in 2018, a broad inventory was carried out, in which various types of wind turbines - large, smaller and innovative - were investigated. This revealed two potentially suitable locations for wind turbines in the northwest corner of the Utrecht Science Park. At the end of 2019, the Executive Board decided to have a study carried out at these locations in 2020/2021 into the financial and technical feasibility of two wind turbines and to investigate whether there is sufficient support for wind energy among our stakeholders in the USP.
Making an inventory of the wishes of the surrounding area within the USP environmental vision
The feasibility study by the university runs parallel to the process of creating the Environmental Vision USP. Together with UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University, the municipality of Utrecht is investigating how residents and businesses think about possible sustainable solutions in the USP. Wind energy will be included as a possible solution in the realisation of the Environmental Vision USP.
In the autumn of 2020 the municipality of Utrecht organised the sub-session Visibly sustainable and gas-free. The university was closely involved in this. During this online session a discussion took place with stakeholders about, among other things, their vision on windmills. Read more in the report of this session.
In March 2021, during the second USP Lab, those involved were able to have their say on the vision presented 'up to that point'. The municipality of Utrecht is currently processing the input from the second USP Lab after which the draft environmental vision for the USP will be submitted to the municipal executive with the request to release the document for public consultation. The municipality's website indicates when the public consultation period (step 6) starts.
In addition, the university will hold talks with stakeholders in 2021. Experience with other wind projects in the Netherlands shows that the main concerns of stakeholders in the area are noise, impact shadow and visibility in the landscape. The university will map out possible concerns, wishes and recommendations of stakeholders as accurately as possible and include these in the study. The impact of vibrations and electromagnetic pulses on research equipment will also be examined in detail and discussed with researchers from faculties and companies in the Utrecht Science Park.
With one large windmill, the university can make approximately 20-25% of the electricity it needs sustainable. However, there is still a long way to go before that happens. Installing a wind turbine is a careful process of years. Until the end of this year, Utrecht University will be working to find an answer to the question of whether it is possible and desirable to place a wind turbine in the Utrecht Science Park. The feasibility study is expected to run until the third/fourth quarter of 2021. The Utrecht City Council is expected to decide whether it wants to make room for further research into wind energy in the Utrecht Science Park by adopting the Environmental Vision USP at the end of 2021.
The wind desk: for answers to questions
Interested parties who, after reading the frequently asked questions, have other questions about the research that Utrecht University is doing into the feasibility of a wind turbine in the Utrecht Science Park, can send an e-mail to Jolt Oostra, portfolio manager energy at Utrecht University.