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A fresh investment of $2.4 million into solar and sustainability was announced this week at the formal launch of Flinders University’s massive solar carpark.

At the same time Flinders released its Sustainability Plan, which includes a plan to be a carbon positive university.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling said there is a big vision for sustainability at Flinders and the university is setting its sights high.

“We’re aspiring to be a carbon positive university – possibly the first – by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and effectively taking more carbon out of the atmosphere than we produce,” he said.

“Thanks to an extensive solar network of some 6000 panels covering the solar carpark and rooftops, Flinders Beford Park campus generates one-fifth of its own electricity needs, and aims to lift this to one-third through an additional $1.45 million investment in solar energy over 2019-20.

“This will see us roll out more panels across our rooftops, create solar covered walkways and shelters, and begin planning another large solar car port or ground-mounted solar array. With all this energy generated on campus, we are also investigating energy storage.”

A further $950,000 in University funding has been allocated to develop the initiatives within Flinders’ new Sustainability Plan, which harnesses the expertise and creativity of Flinders staff and students gathered over an extensive planning and engagement exercise.

“We distilled this feedback to reveal the 10 top areas of importance to our Flinders community and created an action plan for 2019,” Professor Stirling said.

The new initiatives include installing electric car charging stations; decarbonising the University’s fleet of vehicles; eliminating single-use plastics for food and drinks; enhancing the Bedford Park lake and turning it into a demonstration site for sustainability initiatives; and reducing, reusing and recycling more materials on campus.

Professor Stirling said in addition to reducing Flinders’ own carbon footprint, the investments will engage students in the latest renewable energy technologies, engineering, civil and transport system development.

“There will be many opportunities for these projects to be used in our teaching and learning, enabling students and staff to experience the technology of the future and encouraging partnerships with industry, government and the community to maximise these benefits,” he says.

The $2.4 million in new sustainability initiatives adds to some $5 million invested last year.

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