How Breton universities are preparing to face rising energy prices – Bretagne

Will the universities in Brittany have to close longer during the winter holidays, as that of Strasbourg has already decided, to cope with rising energy prices?

At the University of Western Brittany (UBO), in Brest, this increase, for the coming year,? has already been modeled?. “The low hypothesis is that the bill will be multiplied by three, from 1.4 million euros in 2022 to 4.2 million euros in 2023”, confides the president of the UBO, Matthieu Gallou. “But it could go up to five or six million euros”.

This very large increase, in the first item of expenditure of the operating budget of the University of the West, will not be without consequence. “Financially, it’s a wall for us. UBO’s finances are tight. We are absolutely incapable of coping alone. On this issue, we are waiting for the State to assume its responsibilities”.

No planned closure at UBO

When asked whether a measure similar to that taken by the University of Strasbourg can be considered, Matthieu Gallou responds tit for tat. “To be honest, the idea of ​​closing for a few days was raised, but quickly rejected, for three reasons. The first is that it is seen as transferring the cost of energy onto the students themselves, since they will have to work from home. The second is that we know the difficulty that was theirs during confinement and that we do not want to make them pay for it. The third is that on a UBO scale, a one- or two-week shutdown would result in negligible financial gain. There is no miracle solution and you have to be wary of those that seem obvious, when the subject is extremely complex. The president of the UBO believes that “if there is no financial boost, it will plunge the UBO back into a situation of major deficit”.

“We are very vigilant”

In Quimper, on the Pierre-Jakez-Hélias university hub, students and teachers are already paying attention. “We are very careful to ensure that the lights and video projectors are turned off when the course is over. We remind teachers, speakers, anyone using the rooms that they must turn off when they leave and close the windows, ”explains Philippe Guillou, the director of the university center.

For the rest, Quimper will follow the decisions of the presidency of Brest. “The management of the” fluids “(water, electricity, heating) of our pole depends on the” parent company “, in Brest”. It is the UBO of Brest which programs the heating of the University of Quimper, for example. And at night it is always switched off in all the premises.

No additional cost for students and staff

For the University of South Brittany (UBS), there is no question of “transferring energy costs to students and staff,” says Virginie Dupont, president of UBS. “We will not close the university any longer and there will be no distance learning. »

The costs of gas, electricity and heating have already been modeled for 2023: 1.6 million euros, compared to 1.3 million euros in 2022 and 1 million in 2021. A lower increase than elsewhere , which can be explained in particular by the major works undertaken by the university for several years to reduce its energy consumption.

“45% of our lighting has switched to LEDs and 33% of our stock is now on a heating network that runs on wood,” explains Virginie Dupont. On the heating side, it has been cut “about ten days at Christmas and a week in February” for six years.

Different strategies between Rennes 1 and Rennes 2

As for Rennes 1 University, the most pessimistic scenario causes the fluid bill to jump from 4.8 million euros to 18.5 million euros, between 2021 and 2023. “It’s simply dizzying” , reacts Ludovic Babin-Touba, vice-president in charge of finance.

“A 283% possible increase in the energy bill in 2023 is considerable for a university like ours, which is characterized by a strong research balance and which therefore has particularly energy-intensive equipment”. To lower the score, all options are considered… including the use of distance over specific periods.

Asked about the possible measures, the vice-president in charge of finance at Rennes 1 anticipates strong choices. “We will probably have to make decisions that will allow the closure of entire buildings. Turning the heat down one degree will not be enough. We still have a lot of energy sieves on campus.”

To achieve the announced objective of a 10% reduction in energy consumption, solutions will have to be put in place quickly. This week, Rennes 1 University launched a vast collective reflection to put all staff at the heart of the debates. More than 200 proposals have already been collected by management. A crisis unit which meets on a weekly basis has been set up and a definitive action plan should be put in place by October 10.

Rennes 2 will not close a building

On the side of Rennes 2 University, if the increases in energy prices are also starting to weigh heavily on the budget (+148% increase planned for 2023), the responses provided to deal with them are quite different from its neighbor. No question of changing the dates of school holidays, for example. “On our side, we will rather try to improve our occupancy strategy for premises which already have one of the best occupancy rates in France”.

Beyond the work carried out on the energy performance of buildings and the replacement of lighting with models that consume less electricity, the university should above all play on the temperature of buildings and the hourly amplitudes of heating operation. A detailed action plan will be communicated shortly.

letelegramme Fr Trans

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