How to install solar in schools
We’re currently building a 2MW community energy scheme with a Welsh community energy group called Awel Amen Tawe. Their Egni Coop is working with Newport Council to install solar on their schools and other public buildings such as the velodrome. Dan McCallum from Egni Coop, has written this rather excellent blog piece, looking at the finer details of the project panning and installation process.
These are some of the stages we’re going through now to install solar to a high quality, and in a safe manner, on Newport schools during term time.
With all schools, we have a Project Start Up Meeting to plan the install– this involves:
- the school (usually the headteacher or deputy, as well as the site manager (caretaker in smaller schools)
- our installers, Joju Solar
- Newport Council Energy Team staff who have led the project throughout from within the Council
Rebecca Bearcroft (Malpas Court School), Mathew Preece (Newport Council Deputy Energy Manager, centre), Ben Budding (Joju), Dan McCallum (Egni)
Eveswell Primary, Egni, Newport Council and Joju staff
At the meeting, we discuss our Construction Phase Plan which details different aspects such as access, where fencing and scaffolding is to be located, the layout of the panels on the roof, timings of deliveries, storage, safeguarding of children (all our contractors are DBS checked), asbestos reports on the roof structure and cable runs. We walk around the site to check everyone is as expected. These items and more, are gone through in detail.
Early morning at the start of every installation, we have a Site Induction Meeting – this involves all the contractors working on the school and senior staff. Any onsite issues, timings, are gone through to ensure site safety.
Mark Smith, Deputy Head at Maindee Primary, leading Site Induction with Ben Budding, Joju Manager, and our contractors
Rosie Gillam, Egni Director, explains the next step “Our panels are being stored in an enormous warehouse in Newport and start to arrive.”
Panels arriving at Bassaleg Comprehensive
We take them across to the site compound on a pump truck, and then up to the roof with a telehandler or scissor lift.
And then the install starts – rails are laid and then panels are attached.
Internal electrics are commissioned in the electrical cupboard/room – these can be quite complicated. This example at Maesglas Primary shows the connection into the existing supply system; our FiT generation meter, our Rtone metering which allows us to measure how much the school is using from the solar panels; the export limitation device (which was a requirement of the grid operator at this site due to the weakness of the grid infrastructure in this area – so no more than 17kWp can be exported on to the grid from our 23kWp system on the school roof. This is unlikely to happen often as most of the power will be used on site by the school rather than exported.”
Egni equipment at Maesglas Primary
Dan McCallum, Egni Director added “During the install, sites are monitored by our Clerk of Works, Ben Whittle from the Welsh Government Energy Service. Ben is an experienced installer himself and can ensure that the quality is high and gives helpful advice. Egni staff also visit sites as do Newport’s Energy Team. Joju have a full time Health and Safety Supervisor, Eric Couling, who goes between the sites.
Ben Whittle at Newport High School
We also usually need to have a full electrical shutdown on the site before commissioning – and this needs to be coordinated with the teachers, ICT/servers, and it affects the fire alarms, boilers and other electrical systems – all of whom need to be considered and notified in some cases. We do the shutdown out of school hours, sometimes over the weekend, to reduce the impact on the school.
But finally, we end up with projects like this!
John Frost School – part of our 230kw installation there
And we’re very much looking forward to new installs getting started next week at Marshfield Primary, Lliswerry Primary, St Julians – and we’ll be doing school assemblies to explain the work at Maindee Primary, Malpas Court and Marshfield!
+ we’ve so excited that we’ve had the start off meeting on the Velodrome which we believe will be the biggest rooftop solar project in Wales @ around 500kw. We’re even getting a crane to hoist up the panels! More on that to follow….”
Find Out More
- See more of Egni Coop’s work on their website
- Joju have installed solar on more than 100 schools nationwide. This infographic explains what we can offer, including community energy finance.
- This blog is a great 3rd party explanation of how we work with any business on a commercial rooftop PV project