Cover story

Going Solar

much as £3,000 a month. Funding options from installers mean it’s possible to avoid upfront costs and instead pay a fixed service fee for the length of the contract. Installing solar PV panels can

shave a quarter to a third off a school’s electricity bill, especially with an LED lighting installation, leading to savings of more than £125,000 for a typical primary school over the life of the system. Many schools avoid the upfront costs of planning and installation by renting their roofs to suppliers, and are able to generate income by selling electricity back to the grid. Installing charging points for

electric vehicles supports broader carbon reduction targets and can help your school generate income.

Review Make sure you can gauge the success of the initiatives you are implementing by recording the Return on Investment (ROI) and levels of carbon reduction. This will inform your future planning and target setting. Do continue to communicate what is being achieved to your school community as it encourages engagement and buy-in on multiple levels.

n Tim Warneford is a school funding consultant, working in conjunction with the Lloyds Bank education team to create bespoke energy strategies for academy trusts. He has facilitated CIF bids that include survey, installation, design, maintenance and training. warnefordconsulting. com

Installing solar panels doesn’t have to cost the earth, says Ann Flaherty

Cutting your carbon footprint by installing solar panels is the keystone to achieving net zero and educating by example. When we talk about solar power,

we automatically think about owning solar panels. Owning anything comes at a cost and, given that most schools have no capital, the idea of having solar power is often left for another day. But it doesn’t have to be. A school

does not have to own solar panels to have solar power – it can just buy solar power. After all, the school buys mains electricity, so why not solar-generated electricity? Buying green electricity from

mains suppliers is expensive, as the tariffs charged are higher than standard rates. However, there is another solution. A school can buy solar power generated on site from panels it does not own or have any responsibility for managing. Indeed, many hundreds of schools have opted for this route. These schools enter a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the owner of the panels. The agreement gives the school the right to solar electricity at the same, or slightly lower, rate as its mains supplier. The school has no increased costs and it benefits from the zero-carbon electricity source. So why haven’t all schools

embraced this idea? The issue is that power purchase options come with long-term contracts. Given the

FundEd AUTUMN 2021 15

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