Pembrokeshire County Council has awarded a contract for the installation of rooftop solar panels on 20 local schools and leisure centres to Welsh social enterprise, Egni Co-op.
It’s estimated that the solar panels will prevent the emission of approximately 200 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and should save the schools and leisure centres £180,000 per year in energy costs.
The systems should have an operational life of well over 30 years, and the contract aims to install over 1MW of solar PV on the schools and leisure centres over the next 18 months.
Photo: Golden Grove Primary, Pembs
Steve Keating, the Council’s Energy and Sustainability Team Manager, said the scheme is an example of thinking differently.
“By securing outside capital investment from a social enterprise this solar power project offers the Council all the carbon savings along with major savings on operational expenditure for zero capital cost to the Council,” he said.
“The procurement model also ensures that local schools will receive excellent educational support on renewable energy and climate change topics.
“At the same time the scheme supports the ambitions of a community energy cooperative thus allowing a social enterprise to roll out further renewable energy projects in other locations and retaining as much of the supply chain benefit as possible within Wales.”
A key part of the tender is a linked educational programme to engage schools in Pembrokeshire, alongside Sustainable Schools Pembrokeshire, to help tackle climate change. Egni’s Education Programme is called ‘We are Energy Warriors’ and has been developed by their Education Officer, Jen James.
A video featuring activities undertaken by the six existing primary schools with Egni solar panels in Pembrokeshire can be seen at Energy Rappers video on YouTube.
Egni already works in partnership with the Energy Sparks charity who have developed an excellent energy data platform to support schools in reducing their carbon footprint and save money.
The average Energy Sparks primary has saved at least £3,000 off their energy bill over the last year and 12.8 tonnes of CO2, the average secondary has saved at least £12,000 and 48 tonnes of CO2.
At present, Egni and its principal contractor Ice Solar are undertaking further feasibility checks on all the sites and working with National Grid before agreeing final installs with the Council. As sites are installed, they will be publicised via Pembrokeshire County Council and Egni’s media channels.
Dan McCallum, Awel Aman Tawe and Egni Co-op Director said: “We are delighted to be working with the Council and with children and teachers in Pembrokeshire schools.
“We all need to work together to tackle climate change – as a cooperative that is ingrained in our model.
“We’ve also been supported by the Welsh Government Energy Service which has been crucial to our development.
“We’d like to thank Pembrokeshire for their innovative approach in terms of procurement – this is one of the first examples we believe of a Council in Wales awarding a large contract to a social enterprise like us.
“We are now focused on providing clean power and saving as much money as possible for schools and leisure centres in Pembrokeshire. Going forward, we want this co-operative approach to be seen as a case study in how to best tackle climate change.”