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Solar panels on the roof of Queen Katherine School in Kendal

Case Study: Solar PV at Queen Katherine School

Kendal: Queen Katherine School

Headteacher: Mr Jon Hayes 

Solar PV Array: 311kw  

Estimated carbon savings (one year of use) : 24 tonnes CO2e 

Interest in lowering the school’s carbon footprint and develop their sustainable credentials comes from an eco-club and an enthusiastic Headteacher. Initially interest was piqued by policies and programmes that were led by the students, for example recycling, and food growing. The Headteacher, Mr Hayes, then began exploring solar panels as a way to lower the energy costs of the school, as well as boost the school’s sustainability credentials.  

As with all projects like this the process included a tender, and Mr Hayes is keen to point out that in this situation ensuring clear communication with all parties is key, and can be a challenge. Furthermore it’s important to consider the long term maintenance and cleaning of the panels, annual checks will be required, and this should be built into any costs.  

Connection to the grid, and any selling back of electricity was (and indeed still is) a challenging part of the project, as export guarantees can be as little as 1p per kw/h. Conversations with your energy provider are key, and, as with any communication can be tricky – so pre-empt this and start conversations early. Batteries are also an area that needed thought, this project didn’t include them, but the technology (and prices) are changing all the time.  

However, a year on (it was completed in April 2023), the education value is clear. In both setting an example to the wider community and starting conversations, but also in the students exploring the finer detail of electricity generation, carbon costs and use of energy. The students can access the app used to view generation and carbon savings, and this can be used in lessons and groups.  

Key advice: 

  • The tender process was really important and good communication during this is absolutely vital!  
  • Be patient! It does take time, so manage the expectations of your school community accordingly.   
  • Be realistic about what you can expect in terms of energy gains, on a dismal day it could be only 10kw/h  

 

What’s next?  

The school are now exploring electric vehicle charging points, thanks in part to further funding that may be available, plus the experiences of staff and visitors, some of whom already use electric vehicles. Current information can be found here: Workplace Charging Scheme for state-funded education institutions – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)  

 

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