The Solar Digest for Solar Power, Solar Energy and Photovoltaic PV News - Installation

Future Shines Bright for Bristol Schools with Massive Solar Energy Programme

Dozens of Bristol schools are seeing their electricity bills slashed as a massive programme of investment in solar energy by the City Council reaches completion. Believed to be the largest of its kind in the UK, the initiative will save council taxpayers almost £60,000 each year.

Local renewable energy specialists Solarsense have installed solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roofs of 35 schools. It will not only greatly reduce the schools’ electricity costs but also earn the council money under the Government’s Feed-in Tariff, which it can then use to reinvest in further projects.

The initiative will significantly reduce Bristol’s carbon footprint, boosting its reputation as one of Britain’s greenest cities. Generating a total of more than 550 kilowatts at peak power, it is thought to be the largest solar energy programme for schools by a local authority.

The new solar arrays are the combined size of almost 15 tennis courts and will generate nearly half a million kilowatt hours of free electricity every year - enough to meet the needs of more than 140 typical homes.

The solar arrays will also save around 280 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year from being pumped into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels - about the same amount of CO2 as produced by driving a car 42 times round the equator.

The installations have been carried out as part of the council’s Energy Management Unit’s £1 million PV for Schools programme, with the first completed at a secondary school, Redland Green, last October. More installations have followed at another secondary school, St Mary Redcliffe and Temple, and 33 primary schools across the city.

One of the largest installations is at Ashton Vale Primary where solar PV panels on the roofs of the hall and early years building are generating 25 kilowatts at peak power and cutting electricity bills. Data from the PV array and a weather station will feed into an interactive web page so pupils can find out how much electricity is being generated for the weather conditions and carbon emissions saved.

Headteacher Vivien Champeney said: “Our new solar PV system has a significant financial benefit as we will not be paying for any electricity generated by the PV system and we will spend the money saved on improving teaching and learning for our children. It will also help them appreciate the importance of renewable energy.”

Council leader Barbara Janke said: “This has been a very ambitious project working with 35 schools across the city that is helping to cut bills and save energy. There has been great enthusiasm shown for the project by the staff and pupils at Ashton Vale and in all the schools that have taken part, and they should be congratulated. This project is a good example of the type of investment we want to see on a much bigger scale through out £140 million energy investment plans.”

Steve Barrett, Managing Director of Solarsense, said: “Installing solar PV systems at so many schools is a very visible demonstration to the community of how renewable energy can reduce electricity bills and carbon emissions and help make Bristol the UK’s greenest city. All this solar PV will mean a bright future for the whole community as well as the schools involved.”

The schools’ solar PV is the latest successful completion by the Backwell-based company. It has recently installed PV systems at the At-Bristol science discovery centre, Bristol Zoo and the National Composites Centre at the Bristol & Bath Science Park.

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