The project, which will be housed in a utility building built in 1912, will generate a quantity of steam sufficient to heat the entire campus and cover around half of its electricity demand.
Shane Stennes, the university’s sustainability co-ordinator, told US news site Midwest Energy News that the university aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2050.
In addition to saving emissions and reducing costs, the university is concerned with energy security. Midwest Energy News reported that a freeway bridge between the campus and its erstwhile heating source, the nearby Southeast Steam Plant, collapsed in 2007, threatening the steam tunnel which runs beneath it.
Jerome Malmquist, director of energy management at the university, said: ‘We see CHP as a way to be competitive with other schools and to protect research if we had a catastrophe.’