Things have come full circle at the University of NSW with solar panel technology developed at the institution now set to provide the campus with all its power needs.

UNSW inked paperwork for a 15-year deal with Chinese Australian company Maoneng in December which will see the university powered by the soon-to-be constructed Sunraysia Solar Farm located near Balranald in NSW’s Riverina region.

UNSW will in 2019 become the first university to have 100 per cent of its energy needs met by solar photovoltaics.

Sunraysia Solar Farm is earmarked for completion in the middle of that year after which UNSW will flick the switch to solar.

UNSW Professor Martin Green and the late Professor Stuart Wenham were awarded the 1999 Australia Prize for energy, science and technology for their work on solar cells in the 1980s.

At the Sydney 2000 Olympics, homes in the athletes’ village generated their own electricity using solar cells developed by the professors.

The UNSW solar deal includes 13 main electricity accounts across the main Kensington campus and also a few smaller campuses around Sydney. Origin Energy will handle the supply of power.

UNSW energy manager Nick Jones said on Monday that more than 100 buildings would be powered by solar, including the David Phillips Sports Complex and concerts held at the uni bar.

He said despite striking the deal the university continued to look at ways to reduce its carbon footprint.

“We’re still pursuing energy efficiency at the university … we’re always looking to eliminate waste and be as efficient as we can with our energy use and the new buildings we’re putting up,” Mr Jones said.

The University of Melbourne in late 2017 announced its part in a consortium of large energy users that will buy renewable energy from a wind farm to be built in western Victoria.

By Rebecca Gredley