The areas of energy and energy management are among the most important fields of action for achieving sustainable development and climate protection. With the aim of continuously and sustainably reducing energy consumption, the University of Oldenburg implements various energy-saving projects and energy-related renovations every year.
These measures are partly financed through intracting, whereby the saved energy costs of € 1.5 million per year so far, which are achieved through energy improvements, are used for new investment projects.
Measures that are being implemented as a priority to reduce energy consumption include the renovation of outdated ventilation and heating systems, the continuous expansion of lighting installations in LED and the energy modernisation of the building infrastructure. In addition, the university is currently also examining whether it would make sense to install a battery and/or hydrogen storage system to optimise photovoltaic energy. Combined heat and power plants are also to be installed at all locations (Haarentor, Wechloy and Wilhelmshaven) over the next three years to supply the university buildings with on-site electricity and heat.
After the University of Oldenburg also pushed for a switch to green electricity at the state level, Lower Saxony's public buildings - and thus also the university - have been supplied exclusively with electricity from renewable energies since 01.01.2017.
To this end, the university's own photovoltaic systems were commissioned at the Haarentor site in 2018 and the Wechloy site in 2019 during the reporting period, which are used exclusively for the university's own needs and can cover 1.5% of total electricity consumption. The University of Oldenburg still uses natural gas and biogas to supply heat to the building infrastructure.
The total energy consumption of the University of Oldenburg has been declining since 2016 due to the implementation of various energy-saving measures. This can be seen above all in the per capita energy consumption, which, with the exception of 2016, has fallen steadily since 2014 from 2,741 kWh/member of the university to 2,442 kWh/member in 2019. For example, despite higher student numbers and greater use of research equipment, electricity demand has decreased by 5% from 19,683 MWh to 18,961 MWh. This decrease is mainly due to the renovation of technical facilities, the gradual conversion to LED lighting and the expansion of self-supply with renewably generated electricity. Only the weather-adjusted heating consumption increased slightly in the reporting period. In relation to usable floor space, however, consumption decreased by 4% thanks to building and roof renovations.
The downward trend in energy shows that the efforts to optimise efficiency are paying off.
With the increasing digitalisation of research, teaching and administration at the University of Oldenburg, the demand for computing power and storage capacities is also growing, and with it the energy consumption of the IT infrastructure. With a share of about 30 % of the total consumption, the computer centre is currently the largest electricity user within the university. In particular, the necessary air conditioning of the server rooms is very energy- and cost-intensive. The new computing cluster therefore has efficient cooling with outside air. New high-performance computers are equipped with direct water-cooled server processors, which allow higher supply and return temperatures of the cooling water. Even at values of up to 35°C, the outside temperature is sufficient to achieve optimal cooling of the data centre. Therefore, no compression chiller is needed to reduce the cooling water temperature. Annually, about 500,000 kWh of energy and about 110,000 EUR in energy costs can be saved.