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More sun, please, as school sets solar goal
PUPILS returning to Eynsham’s Bartholomew School next month will be able to keep an eye on how much electricity is being generated by new solar panels.
Southern Solar has installed 149 panels on the sports centre roof, covering 230 square metres, to save the school money on energy costs.
Site development officer Mark Harrison said electricity generated by the panels would be used around the school and should lead to an annual saving of about £2,000-a-year in energy costs.
The scheme has cost £60,000 to install.
During term time, the electricity will be used on site and sold to the National Grid during the school holidays.
The school spends about £36,000 a year on electricity and Mr Harrison estimated it would take about eight years to cover the cost of the panels, after receiving a feed-in tariff of about £5,000 a year from the Government.
It is estimated that the panels will produce 28,065 kwh of electricity per year.
The pupils will be able to monitor the energy produced by an online counter to help make the panels educational as well as environmental.
Mr Harrison added: “How much money we make depends on how much sun there is, so it could take longer for the panels to pay for themselves if there is a lot of wet weather.
“Once the pupils are back at school on September 3, they will be able to see how much energy has already been generated and keep an eye on what the panels are producing.
“Students realise the environmental effects of using fossil fuels and want to know what is happening with energy use.
“It’s great for them to see the impact renewable energy can have in practice and, instead of just talking about it in lessons, they can see it making a real difference to their school.”
The school in Witney Road has about 1,000 pupils and became an academy in March.
It has an eco-house on the school site, which is powered by a wind turbine.
Students work on green power projects as part of the curriculum, including designing and building an electric car.
Claire Lund, a spokeswoman for Southern Solar, which has an office in Oxford, said the firm has also installed solar panels at Windale Primary School in Blackbird Leys and at Grandpont Nursery School in South Oxford.
Bartholomew School headteacher Andrew Hamilton said: “We looked at a few options for renewables and chose solar as it provided the most benefit to the school.
“Pupils will look at how the panels work as part of their science and geography work and I’m sure all pupils will take an interest.
“They are very concerned about how energy is used and the future of the planet.”
In 2010, West Oxford Community Renewables funded a £290,000 installation of 550 solar panels at Matthew Arnold School in Cumnor.