Schools in Crawley and Horsham have joined the renewable energy revolution and are generating their own clean electricity from the sun’s rays.
Three Bridges Primary School in Crawley and the Forest School in Horsham are the latest to join the West Sussex County Council Solar Power for Schools programme to install solar panels that will power the school with clean electricity during the day.
By the end of next year, the County Council will have installed solar PV systems on more than 60 schools through its Solar Power for Schools programme. Eleven schools are already up and running.
Two 50kW systems have been installed at Three Bridges Upper Site and the Forest School with a smaller, 30kW system at Three Bridges Lower Site.
The output from the solar panels reduces the amount of grid electricity the schools need to buy from their usual energy provider during the day, leading to a total annual bill saving of approximately £4,000 across the three sites. By using their own clean electricity, the schools will also reduce their carbon emissions by an estimated 49 tonnes in total each year and teach their pupils about the importance of renewable energy and protecting the environment.
The systems are installed and maintained by Your Energy Sussex, the West Sussex County Council led council energy partnership, at no up-front cost to the schools who buy the clean electricity generated at a significantly cheaper rate than the electricity they buy from the grid.
Deborah Urquhart, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Our Solar Power for Schools programme gives forward-thinking schools a real opportunity to protect themselves against future energy price rises and make a contribution towards protecting the environment for future generations. We are delighted that so many schools are opting to join the programme that is also giving local installers an opportunity to bid for the work, which is good news for local investment and jobs in the county.”
Siobhan Denning, Head Teacher at the Forest School, said: “Being able to install a solar PV system at the school without the up-front cost and procurement hassle was a big attraction for us. With energy costs expected to rise in the future, we look forward to reaping the benefit from the solar panels for years to come while giving something positive back to the environment.”
Trudy Emberson, Head Teacher at Three Bridges Primary School, said: “Our school was really pleased to be involved in this programme. We involved our Eco Committee in finding out about the benefits of using solar power to help run our school in a more cost efficient and environmentally friendly way.”
Your Energy Sussex is also carrying out feasibility work on battery storage for schools with solar PV systems. Storing surplus energy generated by the solar panels in large, on-site batteries enables schools to get more from their solar PV system by using the stored energy when the solar PV system is not generating or feeding it back into the grid when it is needed.