Montalbo Nursery and Primary School

Montalbo Nursery and Primary School

An excited group of Key Stage 2 pupils jostle for positions in the sunlight to generate electricity with handheld solar cells. OASES educators lead such lessons every day, but the difference is that these Montalbo Primary students are investigating renewable energy technology recently installed on their own classroom roof.

After a two-year process of soliciting and considering quotes, consulting with governors, securing a loan, and writing a grant, 126 solar panels were installed on the Montalbo roof in November 2022. The school management contracted with Solar for Schools, the company responsible for rooftop solar arrays on many County Durham schools, purchasing the equipment outright, and paying for installation costs, using a low-interest loan from the Durham County Council. Their success was threatened by post-pandemic inflation, as costs increased beyond the agreed loan amount, but the school was able to secure an £8,000 grant from the School Solar Enabling Fund to keep the project under budget. Montalbo then opted to use their 2022 DfE school capital funding for energy efficiency to pay off a portion of the loan early, leaving them with annual loan repayment costs well below the anticipated energy savings from their rooftop power station.

Solar Panel Generation

The data so far is impressive. At the spring equinox, Montalbo’s solar panels are already generating over half of the school’s electricity consumption (see most recent data here), dramatically reducing energy costs and related carbon emissions. In fact, at midday on sunny school days, and over weekends and holidays, the extra power from Montalbo’s 49.8 kWp solar photovoltaic array is flowing back into the National Grid, earning the school income to further reduce their energy costs.

Montalbo’s rooftop solar array is now positioned to deliver economic, environmental, and educational benefits for years to come. And with help from OASES, Montalbo’s pupils are getting an early introduction to what meaningful action to address the climate emergency can look like, right on their own classroom roof. If your school would like to investigate the feasibility of installing rooftop solar, contact the DCC Low Carbon Energy Team at [email protected].

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