Rising bills at St Andrews University represent a “major threat” to investment in teaching and research, according to the ancient higher education institute.
However, its new renewable energy project at Guardbridge will hereafter generate power through wood-fuelled biomass, which would then pump hot water four miles underground to heat and cool labs and residences.
The centre, at the site of the former Curtis Fine Paper Mills, will also become a “knowledge exchange hub” and create local employment. The Scottish Funding Council has supported the project with a £10m grant.
Derek Watson, St Andrews University factor, said: “Guardbridge represents a major strategic step for the university.
“We are committed to becoming carbon neutral and this large industrial site lends itself to the creation of a range of renewable energies which are vital to our efforts to remain one of Europe’s leading research institutions.
“There is also an ideal opportunity to establish a Knowledge Exchange Centre for spin-out, local companies seeking affordable accommodation and for prototype testing.
“We believe the diverse range of potential uses at Guardbridge has the capacity to re-establish this huge site as a key economic centre in Fife.
“We will consult closely with the community as our plans take shape.”