President Schlissel announced October 4, 2018 that U-M will pursue a path toward carbon neutrality. Schlissel also affirmed that we are on track to meet or exceed our existing goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2025.
To achieve the 25% reduction, U-M is installing a natural gas turbine in the Central Power Plant and pursuing a renewable-energy purchase agreement to reduce emissions.
The turbine will reduce U-M’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 80,000 metric tons annually, bringing us about halfway to the 2025 goal. The Central Power Plant uses co-generation to generate electricity from steam that would otherwise be wasted, resulting in an overall efficiency of 70-80%—much higher than conventional power plants. This project was recommended in the 2015 report from the President’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee as “the single largest contributor to meeting the 2025 target.” Also, the State of Michigan Energy Office and the City of Ann Arbor’s Climate Action Plan recommend expansion of co-generation as part of the future energy mix.
The power purchase agreement under negotiation will enable U-M to procure large-scale renewable energy generated in Michigan. The agreement will reduce our emissions by replacing a portion of the electricity we purchase with renewable energy such as solar or wind. Emissions associated with the electricity we purchase, which currently relies heavily on coal, are included in our goal. Therefore, increasing the portion of our purchased electricity that comes from renewable sources will reduce our overall emissions.