York Robotics Research Center receives £1.5m to build solar farm

Posted on May 16, 2022

The University of York will be the location of a new £1.5million solar farm project.

The solar farm is one of nine projects to receive funding to improve environmental sustainability. Photo credit: Tilbury Douglas / John Kees.

Located in the new University building Institute for Safe Autonomy (ISA), the facility will cover an area of ​​approximately 1,000 to 1,500 square meters and will supply approximately 80% of the building’s expected daily use.

Financed by the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), the facility will enhance the Institute’s research capabilities by providing a “living lab”, which will allow researchers to develop and safely use robots to inspect and maintain the solar farm.

The project will enable the Institute to achieve energy self-sufficiency and help achieve the University’s net-zero targets.


Professor Miles Elsden, director of the Institute for Safe Autonomy, said the panels will supply around 200kW of electricity to the building.

He said: “The installation will consist of a range of different panel configurations – from static ground installations, to sun tracking arrays and vertical towers, to panels deployed on the side of the building and its roof.

“This is a truly exciting and innovative project that shows our commitment as a university to sourcing sustainable energy.”

Energetic efficiency

The new facility will be coupled with “Internet of Things” (IoT) technology which will be used to further increase the Institute’s energy efficiency to meet the remaining 20% ​​of the building’s energy needs.

The solar farm is one of nine projects that aim to improve environmental sustainability, with nearly £19 million in funding from UKRPIF.

The investment will help universities improve, modernize and adapt research centers and facilities to reduce their carbon emissions and make research processes more environmentally sustainable.

As 23% of UK CO2 is emitted by buildings and building use, the nine projects will contribute to the government’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 and reaching net zero by 2050.

Further information :

ISA Net Zero Project

The Institute for Safe Autonomy at the University of York is a new £45 million initiative supported by funding from UKRPIF which is due to end in early 2022. The Institute provides an interdisciplinary center enabling scholars across the University to work with industry, government, and the public to find solutions to real-world challenges to ensure the safe deployment of robotic and connected autonomous systems.

The UKRPIF Net Zero award of £1.52 million will enable the deployment of a photovoltaic (PV) array close to the building which, together with an improved IoT-based building management system, will enable the Institute to become energy self-sufficient.

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