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Switching to Solar

by Michael Ford last modified 06 Nov, 2019 02:09 PM

Our Diocesan Education Centre in Wilton has a new solar panel installation.

SDBE*'s Martyn Kemp takes up the story:

"In my role as Schools Estates Manager, I share a passion with Bishop Nicholas to try to make all of the Diocese’s schools and school related properties as efficient and cost effective as they can be. The installation of solar panels on school roofs, where they are suitable, is one solution that also reduces the school’s carbon footprint and in the process makes our estate more sustainable for the future.

"In 2016 I was approached by Dorset Community Energy, who had obtained funding to install solar panels at 6 of our church schools in Dorset at no cost to the schools. The 6 schools, at that time being offered all the electricity generated from their solar panels for free! (The government-sponsored feed-in tariff was very good at that point in time.)

"Much time and effort was taken to ensure that the legal conditions for the lease of the solar panels to be installed on the SDBE-owned building was fully in the SDBE’s and the schools' favour and, when this was achieved, the 6 schools all received their free electricity generating panels.

"Such funding was then not presented again until late 2017, when a new local company called Nadder Community Energy was set up to undertake similar offers to install solar panels on schools on a 20-year lease at absolutely no cost to the school and on very similar legal terms to that agreed for the 6 Dorset Schools.

"We now have the new St Peter’s school and 4 other schools with solar arrays already fitted and up and running via Nadder Community Energy.

"There should have been another school that Nadder Community Energy had achieved funding for, but that school decided not to go ahead with their proposed installation. I therefore suggested to Nadder Community Energy that the funding be redirected to install solar panels on the roof of the Diocesan Education Centre, which had originally been designed to have them, but they were omitted to save costs.

"The redirection of funds was agreed in principle, and arrangements were made to register the DEC before the feed-in tariff arrangement ended at the end of March 2019, just in case everything was approved. However, this arrangement didn’t quite run as expected.

"The Diocesan Education Centre is not fully owned by SDBE, it is on a long lease from Wilton Estates. When permission was requested from Wilton Estates to have the solar panels installed on the roof of the DEC, instead of them giving us permission to have Nadder Community Energy install the panels, Wilton Estates advised that they were looking to start installing solar panels on their estate properties and that they would sponsor the installation at the DEC instead of Nadder Community Energy.

"This was swiftly arranged, and the panels were installed over the October half term and were switched on on the 31st October. The DEC will buy its solar panel generated electricity from the Wilton Estates for 9 pence per KWh – a great deal when we usually have to pay 13-14 pence per KWh to our current electricity provider!"

* Salisbury Diocesan Board of Education

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