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Swansea schools save money by reducing their carbon footprint

THREE Swansea schools are set to see their energy bills reduced after they had solar cells fitted during the summer holidays.

Swansea Council is working in collaboration with Egni Co-op and the Welsh Government Energy Service to help the authority in its aims to become a carbon neutral by 2030.

Together they installed 220kW of rooftop solar on three schools – Pentrehafod, Gowerton (pictured right) and Pontardulais Comprehensives.

Further school projects will follow and the partners are also looking at extending the scheme to non-school buildings.

Most of the electricity generated will be used at the schools, reducing electricity bills by £6,200 a year and also cutting carbon emissions from the schools by about 1,400 tonnes over the next 20 years.

Some electricity will also be exported onto the grid for use in the city.

Andrea Lewis, Cabinet Member for Homes, Energy and Service Transformation, said: “We are delighted with this increase of 61% in clean green power on our schools in Swansea.

“Earlier this year we declared our climate emergency and I’d like to thank everyone involved for moving rapidly to take action in response to this declaration.

“This was achieved at a time when we are facing so many other pressures and I want to thank all the council officers involved for ensuring that the project was completed on time and to such good effect. It was also very important that these installs happened over the school summer holidays before children returned to school.”

She added: “The cost of these solar installations was funded by Egni Co-op and all surpluses will be spent on education projects so it’s a very good partnership approach for the Council. If these pilot schemes work well it’s our intention to expand them to other schools.

“The council is determined to take a lead on tackling the climate crisis and by working with Egni Co-op, we want to increase in the amount of renewable energy installed on our buildings.”

Egni Co-op is a community organisation which funds and manages PV installations in Wales. The solar panels in Swansea have been funded by Egni’s ongoing co-op share offer which has raised £1.9m to date. The rollout was supported by Welsh Government Energy Service who provided dedicated development manager time to the Council.

Sarah Hunt, business manager at Gowerton Comprehensive said: “We are delighted with our new solar panels. Our young people are very keen to tackle climate change and it’s great that the school has been able to reduce its carbon footprint.”

Andrew Barrett, Business Manager at Pentrehafod Comprehensive said: “The installers were first class throughout and I’d recommend Egni Coop to other schools in Swansea for the quality and care of their approach.”

Dylan Jenkins, Business Manager at Pontardulais Comprehensive said: “This is a win win for the school and our pupils – reducing our environmental impact and our electricity bills.”

Jim Cardy, senior manager for Welsh Government Energy Service said, “This project is a great example of community energy groups working closely with a local authority partner in Wales to tackle the climate emergency. We’re pleased to have assisted Swansea Council with technical support and grant funding to progress this rollout, which will contribute towards the public sector ambition of being carbon neutral by 2030.”

Egni is developing a specialist education programme highlighting the benefits and use of solar panels, renewable energy and the business model of co-operatives.

Dan McCallum, Egni Director said: “The three Swansea schools will be receiving £500 of shares in Egni Coop and we want to work with their young people to increase understanding of the cooperative approach in tackling climate change.

“An online educational portal will be developed so students can learn more about renewable energy generated and Egni Co-op will also be providing specific teaching/lesson support which ties in with the new Welsh curriculum. It’s wonderful to be part of a co-operative working alongside a Welsh local authority, as it retains funding within Wales and has many positive outcomes.”

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