Lliswerry: Clean Energy Co-op Partnership

One of the largest solar arrays at any school in Wales has just been commissioned at Lliswerry Comprehensive. The 100kW of solar panels is the result of a partnership between the council and Egni Coop, a community energy initiative set up by award winning charity, Awel Aman Tawe.

The system will generate over 80,000kWh per year which is enough to supply electricity needs of the equivalent of about 27 homes.

David Paris, Site Manager at Lliswerry said, “The solar panels will reduce our carbon footprint by nearly 20 tonnes of CO2 per year and reduce our energy costs. The School wanted to demonstrate our commitment to environmental sustainability and worked with Egni to achieve that. It’s an agenda the children are very engaged with the high awareness of climate change amongst our young people. Egni will also be providing ongoing educational support to the school around energy issues – the energy generation of the panels can be seen on a website here. The school will also be visiting Egni’s sister project, Awel, a community windfarm near Swansea. It will be very interesting for the children to compare two forms of renewable generation.”

Rosie Gillam, Egni; David Paris, Lliswerry Site Manager; Eric Couling, Joju Solar

Rosie Gillam, Egni Director said, “This project is the result of a lot of hard work by school, council staff, Joju Solar and Egni. We are so pleased to see the panels generating clean energy even in the poor weather we’ve been having!.

Our installers are working across Wales putting solar panels on sites as we speak. We expect to have installed 2.5MW by the end of March. All of our sites installed so far can be seen here. We have recently extended our coop Share Offer to £2m. As part of our project, we donate £500 of coop shares to Lliswerry – the idea behind this is the children learn how the coop business model works. Entrepreneurship education is a key part of the national curriculum. The school will earn interest on the £500 depending on the performance of the panels and will be able to take part in the governance of Egni Coop.”

Dan McCallum MBE, Director, said “This is tremendous news that people across the UK are so keen to invest and support renewable energy.

We have decided to keep the annual interest rate for our Share Offer @4% – we have secured a loan from the Development Bank of Wales. But we’d prefer not to draw all that down as it’s at a 5% interest rate. So we can increase the amount of educational work in schools if we’re able to finance more of our remaining installs from Share Offer funds. The Development Bank has been great and there are no additional charges for us not drawing down our full loan facility or paying it back early.

The Development Banks’s funds come from Welsh Government which is extremely supportive of community energy projects – so if we’re able to reduce the amount we need to borrow from the Bank, it means there is a more available for other community energy projects.

Overall 6,000 solar panels across 21 sites at zero cost to Newport Council will be installed by Egni with the total installed capacity close to 2MW.

Most of the electricity generated will be used on site reducing the council’s carbon emissions by 348 tonnes per year. Some electricity will also be exported onto the grid for use in the city.

Councillor Deb Davies, the council’s cabinet member for sustainable development said: “The council is determined to take a lead on tackling the climate crisis and by working with Egni Co-op in the coming months we will achieve a 20 fold increase in the amount of renewable energy installed on our buildings.

“This is a big step towards our ambition of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.”

Egni Co-op is a community organisation which funds and manages PV installations in Wales. It was set up by Awel Aman Tawe  (AAT), a community energy charity which has been operating for 20 years.

Councillor Gail Giles, the council’s cabinet member for education and skills said: “We are delighted by the positive way our school pupils and staff are engaging with this ambitious project.

“A number of our schools are already members of Egni’s sister project Awel Co-op wind farm and have visited wind turbines. As part of Egni’s work an online educational portal will be developed so students can learn more about renewable energy generated on the roofs of their schools.”

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