Solar panels on West Sussex schools are now generating as much green electricity as one of the county’s solar farms.
The County Council is completing the final installations on 80 schools to generate zero-carbon electricity and help them to reduce their energy bills and impact on the environment.
Once complete, the 5 megawatt combined generation capacity will be roughly the same as the council’s 25 acre solar farm at Tangmere, which opened in 2015.
The roof-mounted systems, which range in size from 15 to 250 kilowatts, have been installed at no cost to the schools and the ongoing operation and maintenance costs are met by the council.
The schools simply purchase the green electricity from the council at a reduced rate compared to the electricity they would usually buy from the National Grid.
This will lower school energy bills by £2,000 per year on average and save the County Council’s overall school energy budget £158,000 in the first year. These savings will increase over time as the cost of grid electricity rises.
Deborah Urquhart, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “Our Solar Power for Schools Programme has really made it easy for schools to enjoy the benefits of renewable energy and lower bills without having to worry about the cost or logistics.
“These systems will pay back the cost of installation within a few years and deliver an ongoing financial benefit while providing teachers with a real life case study to bring science and technology to life in the classroom.”
The system installed at Lancastrian Infants School in Chichester will provide the school with 100% of its electricity demand on sunny days and supply surplus renewable electricity for sale to the grid.
Head Teacher Zoe Gordon said: “Our solar panels were fitted in January of this year. We were delighted to be chosen to be part of this scheme as it fits with our eco ethos as well as giving us the opportunity to save money in these pressing financial times for schools.
“The team that fitted the panels worked efficiently and respectfully within our school environment and the project ran smoothly. We are looking forward to lots of sunny weather and seeing the results of the panels!”
The County Council has delivered the West Sussex Solar Schools Programme in partnership with Portsmouth City Council.