Jake Slobe | February 22, 2017
University of Iowa President, Bruce Harreld, announced on Feb. 20 the UI will be coal-free by 2025.
“It’s the right choice for our students and our campus, and it’s the surest path to an energy-secure future,” said Harreld in the press release. “In 2025, we expect to have diminished our reliance on coal to the point it is no longer included in our fuel portfolio.”
The UI has taken steps to reduce its dependence on coal — in 2008, the university established seven “sustainability targets” to be achieved by 2020, according to the press release.
Since the 2020 vision’s inception, the UI has managed to reduce its use of coal by 60 percent.
This correlates with one of the sustainability targets, which seeks to derive 40 percent of the UI’s energy from renewable resources — a far cry from a university once dependent on fossil fuels, according to the UI sustainability website.
The coal-free goal builds on the the sustainability targets set by UI officials in 2012. At that time, UI officials pledged to work toward having 40 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2020. The idea, according to UI officials, was to help transition from the university’s dependency on fossil fuels — including coal — and to increase campus use of biomass and other renewable energy sources.
Over the past nine years, UI campus has reduced its use of coal by 60 percent, according to the release. In late 2016, UI achieved a single-day high of 52 percent energy generated from renewable fuels and averaged 50 percent that week.
In addition to the UI’s use of coal, the sustainability targets also deal with achieving net-negative energy growth and decreasing the amount of waste put into landfills.
The university’s current energy portfolio includes oat hulls, miscanthus grass, wood chips and green energy pellets.
UI partnered with Iowa State University in 2013 to develop a miscanthus grass with local farmers living within 50 miles of Iowa City. The university has already planted 550 acres of the miscanthus and will plant an additional 250 to 350 acres during the spring of 2017. The goal is to establish up to 2,500 acres locally by 2020, according to the release.