The Diocese of Gloucester Academies Trust, which owns Minchinhampton school, has agreed to lease roof space for solar panels to Gloucestershire Community Energy Co-operative (GCEC).
This energy cooperative is offering the local community the chance to buy shares in the installation, helping to cut the school’s carbon emissions and energy bills.
The school will pay the cooperative for the electricity generated by the panels that it can use. Any extra electricity, not needed by the school, will be sold to the local grid at a wholesale market price. It’s expected that the school will be charged much less for the energy it generates from the panels than it would have been charged for the power from an electricity company. In the first year, it is predicted that the school will save £400 on its electricity bill and that savings would increase over time. In the first year the carbon emissions of the school will be reduced by about 5 tons through the substitution of grid electricity that would otherwise have been used by the school.
The money from the sale of the excess electricity will be used to pay an expected interest of 2.5% a year to investors, to build a fund to repay the original investments over 25 years, and to maintain the system.
Matt Partridge, school parent and treasurer for Nailsworth Climate Action Network explains, “The project would significantly reduce the school’s carbon footprint by generating zero-emission solar power while saving the school money by providing a lower and more stable electricity tariff from the panels on its roof! A definite win-win-win that I hope other schools will consider.”
Nick Moss, Headteacher at Minchinhampton said, “We have been developing a new curriculum and the eco side of this curriculum is very important to us all. However, if we don’t lead by example; if we don’t actually function more sustainably as an institution, then we can’t teach about the environment with any integrity. Yes, this solar project will reduce our electricity bills but it will also act as a brilliant learning resource for the children.”
CEO of DGAT, Canon Rachel Howie said, “Care for our planet is an integral part of being good stewards for our planet. For Christians this is an integral part of sustaining creation and seeking life in all its fulness for generations to come. DGAT is delighted to be able to support this creative and innovative project which brings together school and community in a project that has such clear benefits for our children’s future.”
£70,000 has been pledged towards the project by investors and planning permission has now been granted for the project.