OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh unveiled the “UWO Renewable Energy Project,” which is a new, innovative plan that will try and reduce natural gas reliance by turning food waste into heat.

Officials say food waste such as banana peels, eggshells, and coffee grounds will be converted into a renewable energy source for a large building on campus.

The project will be funded by the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Energy Innovation Program, which will give out a $339,000 grant to connect the UW Oshkosh Campus Services Center to an adjacent dry anaerobic digester.

Instead of being burned off, officials say a portion of the biogas being created will be used as a source of heat energy.

“What is most significant about the grant is we are taking an existing resource we have on campus, biodigester-produced methane gas, and using it to offset some of our energy needs,” said Stephanie Spehar, Director of Sustainable Institute for Regional Transformations.

The converted methane gas will provide around 75% of the heat being used at the Campus Services Center, which saves the university around $24,000 a year.

Officials say in 2020, UW Oshkosh ended its use of coal after 50 years. Before 2020, UWO burned 2,000 tons of coal per year, in addition to a small amount of refuse-derived fuel pellets and some natural gas and fuel oil. The University is now using 100% natural gas as a heating fuel, with low-sulfur fuel oil as a backup.

“We are leveraging an existing resource to reduce our energy costs and get closer to our goal of being carbon neutral by 2030,” Spehar added.

For more information about the UWO Renewable Energy Project, click here.