A large campus like UW Oshkosh uses a lot of energy for electricity, heating, cooling, and transportation. Our goal is to meet our energy needs through renewable sources such as biomass fuels, geothermal, solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, and wind.
Energy conservation is our first strategy, because it reduces the amount of energy we need to do what we do. In today's economy the cheapest kilowatts and therms are the ones you don't have to use.
Wind Power. Currently, wind is the largest source of renewable energy at UWO. We get our wind energy through Wisconsin Public Service's NatureWise Program. In 2003, we started with a purchase of 3% of our electricity from green sources, mostly wind power. At the time, UW Oshkosh was the largest buyer of green power in the state. Today, we get about 23% of our electricity from renewable sources: 13% through NatureWise and 10% from a state purchase of wind power. We have been a member of the EPA's Green Power Partnership since 2003, winning awards as the largest purchaser in our athletic conference.
Solar Power. UW Oshkosh has also been installing solar energy technologies on the campus. In 2010, UW Oshkosh installed the first photovoltaic panels to generate electricity on campus. Learn how many watts per hour the panels are currently generating. To date, we have solar installations on the following buildings:
- Albee Hall: to heat an indoor swimming pool;
- Blackhawk Commons: for dishwashing;
- Sage Hall: for heat and electricity;
- Student Success Center: for electricity;
- Taylor Residence Hall: for hot water;
- Heating Plant: to pre-heat water for steam production.
Biomass. In 2011, we opened the first commercial-scale dry anaerobic biodigester in the Americas. Owned by the UW Oshkosh Foundation and designed by BioFerm Energy Systems, the plant uses organic waste from regional dining halls, yards, supermarkets and farms to produce methane gas that is burned to power turbines that generate electricity. Waste heat will soon be piped into nearby buildings for space heat. The energy output equals approximately 8% of the electricity used on campus.
We also use biomass in the form of wood and paper pellets that we mix with coal for use in our heating plant. Ethanol and biodiesel, both biofuels, are used in fleet vehicles. We have several flex-fuel vehicles that can burn up to 85% ethanol and our diesel burning vehicles use a blend of up to 20% biodiesel.
(UWO Biodigester engine exhaust components)
For more information about how we address energy topics in the Campus Sustainability Plan, select one of the following: