After facing strong opposition from students, faculty and nearby residents who maintained a fossil fuel plant did not coincide with the school’s mission to reduce its carbon footprint, the University of Delaware has scrapped plans for a 279 MW co-generation power plant that would have burned natural gas.
Initially, the state-backed plan called for the power plant and a data center to be built on the university’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) campus, but after a one-month review a working group, consisting of faculty and administrators, recommended to the university’s leadership that it should not go forward with the more than $1 billion project.
The group cited the overall quality of the facility plans, the size of the power plant and the potential effects of resulting greenhouse gases and other pollutants on the environment as the reasons for its decision. Although natural gas emits far less pollutants than other fossil fuels, such as coal, the group said in its report that a lack of carbon capture equipment “would have demonstrative and negative effects on the [university’s] commitments to sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint.”
“It is extremely important that development on the STAR campus, which is held to the highest standards, is appropriate both for the short and the long-term, and that future generations of students will have a top-quality education,” said university President Patrick T. Harker, who supported the group’s decision by saying the facility was not a good fit for the school.
In addition to citing some of the feedback it received from students, faculty and the community, the working group also said renewable energy generation appeared to be a better option for the campus.
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