Published: November 20, 2019 | Updated: November 20, 2019

Saving Our Planet 1: Dorset firm helps ‘green’ school from pouring tonnes of CO2 into the air

Poole High School where 592 solar panels have been installed on the school hall and English & Media block.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A Dorset business has helped a ‘green’ school from pouring tonnes of carbon into the Earth’s atmosphere by installing hundreds of new solar panels.

Poole High School expects to offset nearly 17 per cent of its annual energy as a result of the intiative.

It will save more than 76 tonnes of carbon (CO2) per year – the equivalent of a typical diesel car driving 285,000 miles.

The 592 solar panels on the school hall and English & Media block went live on September 4.

They have already saved more than 25,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy.

Annually the panels are expected to save 172,397 kWh of electricity – the equivalent of running 24,628 domestic 7w LED bulbs per year non-stop.

They were installed by Batchelor Electrical of Cabot Lane, Poole. The company carries out major projects across the UK.

Its work at Poole High School also included replacing nearly 1,800 light fittings with new low-wattage LED panels and tubes – giving the students and 250 staff brighter, more responsive lights that use a fraction of the electricity.

Stuart Patience, Batchelor Electrical’s Sales and Marketing Manager, said: “Using the sun’s energy is helping not just Poole High School but also the wider community to tackle climate change.

“The interest-free loan for the project has enabled the school to reduce its energy consumption and generate its own power – all with no upfront costs.

“Without funding, this would have been a pipe-dream for schools such as Poole High and inevitably the project would have never been realised.

“In a single hour, the amount of power from the sun that strikes the Earth is more than the entire world consumes in a year.

“We just need to encourage more schools, colleges, universities and hospitals to realise the potential and the funding that’s available to harness this power,” he added.

Officials at the Wimborne Road school are delighted with the pioneering project.

It will enable them to invest the money saved from lower energy bills into more resources for their 1,924 students.

Poole High School funded the £600,000 project – which includes solar panels, LED lighting and new boiler equipment – through the government-funded Salix Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme (SEELS).

The Department for Education provided an interest-free loan so there were no upfront costs for the school.

The school expects to pay off the loan in six years.

Paul Gray, Headteacher, said: “We’re absolutely delighted with the new solar panels. On their first day of operation they generated 60 per cent of the energy we needed that day.”

‘Going solar’ is the culmination of five years of planning and hard work by David Newman, Poole High School’s Director of Finance and Operations.

Other schools are now contacting Poole High to learn how they can follow in its footsteps.

Mr Newman said: “I’ve had so many enquiries about this from other schools – one emailed me from Hertfordshire.”

Poole High School was able to obtain the Salix funding with the help of Gloucestershire energy consultancy Inspired Efficiency.

The school also had assistance from the local Green Positive Environmental Action (‘Green PEA’) scheme.

Green PEA is a voluntary certification scheme designed to encourage organisations to think about their carbon emissions then take action to reduce them.