Climate Action: Fuel Efficiency

Updates on the Sustainability Goals

Carbon Neutrality and 2025 Greenhouse Gas Goal Update

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.

Central Power Plant Expansion Update

The Central Power Plant (CPP) is a highly efficient, natural gas co-generation facility providing steam heat and electrical power to most Central and Medical Campus buildings. The electricity and steam are generated from energy that otherwise would be wasted. This results in an overall efficiency of 70-80 percent, which is higher than most power plants. A new 15-megawatt combustion turbine to be added to the CPP will reduce the university's overall greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 80,000 metric tons per year, which is the equivalent of removing more than 17,000 passenger vehicles from the road annually. Increasing our own capacity to generate electricity and reducing our dependence on coal-based power reduces our carbon footprint and brings us approximately halfway toward our university goal of reducing total emissions for the Ann Arbor campus by 25 percent.

In the fall of 2017, we introduced the project to the local community through a neighborhood outreach meeting (presentation slides) and we will hold another meeting in the near future to keep interested community members informed as the project progresses.

The project will include appropriate emissions pollution control technologies and air monitoring equipment and devices to meet permit requirements. Additional information about specific limits will be available after receipt of public input and MDEQ's review of our permit application. Noise control will be implemented to go beyond compliance with City and University noise regulations and ensure there are no perceptible changes in noise levels.

Learn more about this project.