Hampshire County Council wanted to give as many schools as possible, the opportunity to have solar PV installed on their roofs, for free, as part of an ambitious programme to cut carbon emissions and running costs in public buildings across the county.
In response to the climate emergency and to contribute to net zero targets, schools would benefit from energy generated by the sun to become more energy efficient, and to cut their energy bills at the same time.
Funding the mission
The council received just over two million pounds of interest free funding from Salix Finance to facilitate this particular part of their programme, as part of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. Salix offers grant funding on behalf of the Government for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from public sector buildings.
With the mission to create as many ‘solar schools’ as possible, the council carried out a tender process. At the end of 2020, they selected Joju to explore the installation of solar PV on 120 buildings, including a mix of primary and secondary schools. Our team was delighted to get to work to help the council realise their ambition.
Surveys and site installations
We spent several months surveying all the sites ourselves, creating designs, costing each project, and also arranging structural surveys. We gradually ruled out a proportion of the suggested sites because following survey, some of the roofs weren’t suitable for solar panels.
We were left with a remaining 90 sites and the installations began in May 2021. We worked on these over a 12-month period.
One of the key elements of the project was that there was a real mix of buildings and system sizes. A benchmark for primary schools was a relatively small system of around 10kW, and a 50kW benchmark size was set for secondary schools. There were also some large school sites of 115 kW. Additionally, we returned to some of the sites to increase the size of the solar PV system installed.
Due to the volume of sites involved in the project, we also recruited additional support into our teams to help deliver solar to the schools as efficiently as possible.
The solar PV over the 90 schools totals 2.1 MW of installed capacity, with a predicted annual generation of 1800 MWh of green electricity across the portfolio. This is also predicted to save the buildings a combined 450 tonnes of Co2 per annum.
On average, the schools are using 80-90% of the energy generated and expected savings for the smallest sites are over £1,000 a year. The largest schools are predicted to save over £15,000 a year. These estimated figures were pre-energy price increases, meaning that savings will be even greater currently.
A positive impact
Councillor Jan Warwick, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Climate Change, said:
“We are putting climate change at the heart of all we do and in this case, delivering both carbon and financial savings for Hampshire’s schools… what is great about this programme in particular is how it is making a positive impact in hundreds of school communities and helping pupils to learn more about this vital issue.”
We second that! The reward for us is not only reducing carbon emissions, but also the learning that undoubtedly comes from the installation of solar on schools – and we’re proud to be part of it.