Monash on track for zero emissions

Photo: Monash University Caulfield campus, source: Bethany Mckay

By BETHANY McKAY

Changes to campus infrastructure are scheduled to keep Monash University on track with the Net Zero initiative, to produce zero carbon emissions by 2030.

While Monash has already increased clean energy production across all four campuses, since the announcement of the program last October, the Net Zero goal is aiming to further reduce infrastructure energy consumption.

Director of Monash Energy Materials and Systems Institute (MEMSI), Associate Professor Jacek Jasieniak

Monash Energy Materials and Systems Institute director Associate Professor Jacek Jasieniak said the first step was to better understand how and where energy was being consumed.

In partnership with American building technology company Honeywell, Monash will be able to monitor and target where energy is being consumed, A/Prof Jasieniak said.

“[This feedback will] moderate energy usage to meet the university’s needs with zero waste,” he said.

A/Prof Jasieniak said buildings in the future would include technology to allow live monitoring of energy use and adjustment of temperature depending on the weather and the number of people inside.

This is part of a cutting-edge microgrid system at Clayton campus, incorporating electricity generation and storage, to allow a greater level of self-sufficiency from the main electricity network.   

Dr Yasmina Dkhissi Net Zero Program Strategy Manager, source: provided by Dr Dkhissi

Net Zero program strategy manager Dr Yasmina Dkhissi said a crucial change to campus infrastructure was ending dependence on natural gas for heating and ensuring all energy is from renewable sources.

“We’re just over halfway through rolling out solar panel installations across all campuses, so far over 4000 panels have been installed totalling 1.36 megawatts,” Dr Dkhissi said. 

“Combined with our existing rooftop solar systems, we now have nearly 2 megawatts of solar capacity across our Australian campuses.”

“Our target is to install more than 7100 solar panels by the end of 2018, giving our campuses enough energy to power over 430 houses per year.”

In addition to on-site solar energy, Monash campuses will also be powered by wind energy from the Murra Warra Wind Farm,  near Horsham in north-western Victoria.

 Monash recently signed an off-take agreement with the wind farm, buying the rights to a percentage of electricity generated by its 116 turbines. 

“[The agreement] will allow Monash to achieve our commitment to be 100 per cent renewable powered in a cost-effective manner,” Dr Dkhissi said.