Bath MP Wera Hobhouse made a special visit to Beechen Cliff School at the end of last month to see a rooftop solar system installed by Bath & West Community Energy.
The solar system was installed during the summer holidays last year and is Bath & West Community Energy’s (BWCE) largest rooftop system to date, comprising 680 solar panels that provide 262 kilowatts of power to the school.
It is estimated to reduce the school’s carbon emissions by 52 tonnes per year and significantly cut their fuel costs.
The Beechen Cliff system is one of six installed by BWCE on schools in Bath, Radstock and Midsomer Norton in 2022.
BWCE is a non-profit community-owned business and installed the rooftop solar system for free, meaning there were no upfront costs for the school.
BWCE owns and manages the system and sells the generated electricity back to the school at a discount price.
This offer is available to schools and other non-domestic buildings, depending on roof size, orientation and onsite energy use all year round, especially in the summer months.
As part of its community benefit mission, BWCE also donates surplus income from its electricity-generating projects into the BWCE Fund, set up as an independent charity, which provides grants for community projects reducing carbon emissions and addressing fuel poverty.
So far 82 grants have been given to local organisations including Bath City Farm, The Carers Centre, First Steps Nursery, Bath Share & Repair and Julian House.
Wera Hobhouse MP said: “I am so proud that Beechen Cliff School and BWCE have come together on this vital project, helping both the planet and the wider school community.
“Community energy schemes such as this are vital to achieving net zero, and have my wholehearted support.
“Bath has long been a pioneer in this field and once again our area is leading the way. Seeing how the solar panels help raise money for school sets an exciting example for how other public services may benefit from similar projects.”
Tim Markell, Headteacher of Beechen Cliff School said: “I am really pleased that Bath and West Community Energy are supplying solar panels on a non-profit basis.
“Our partnership with them is enabling the school to cut carbon emissions and save on rising fuel bills at no capital cost to the school. Ensuring a sustainable future is something our students are passionate about.
“Our school Eco-Team began a campaign last year for the school to install solar panels and so I am delighted that this has been possible.
“Further to this, it is great to know that some of the income generated by BWCE is going into other worthwhile community projects through their community fund.”
Peter Capener, Managing Director of BWCE added: “It’s been exciting to work with Beechen Cliff to deliver our largest solar rooftop scheme to date.
“Our work with schools is really demonstrating the value of community energy in both addressing the climate crisis and reducing fuel bills.
“We estimate a total saving of around £125,000 per year across all the schools where we have installed solar during 2022.”