College powers up solar roof savings

AT the size of four tennis courts, it’s sure to serve up some huge savings for Telford College.

Up to 650 solar panels are to be installed on the college’s roof – enough to heat water for the sports, hairdressing and kitchen areas of the campus.

The green energy project could save hundreds of thousands of pounds over its lifespan by cutting power bills and allowing the college to sell surplus electricity.

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As the country’s biggest solar roof, it will generate enough energy to power 50 kettles simultaneously.

Designers have even covered the panels with a special film to protect them from seagull droppings.

Miles Dibsdall, principal of Edinburgh’s Telford College, which is based in Granton, said: “We have a strong commitment to developing and strengthening our green credentials, and the installation of the solar panel roof is a major endorsement of this pledge.”

Starting in June, the first phase of 210 solar panels will be installed, generating around 50 kilowatts of energy per hour.

That alone will exceed the current record of 204 solar panels installed on the roof of West Lothian College.

Mr Dibsdall said: “The value of having a unique project of this scale, literally under the one roof, will be immense.

“It will give unequalled levels of knowledge transfer in the field of low-carbon technologies that will help ensure the next generation of workers are superbly positioned to reap the benefits of the renewable boom.”

The first phase of installation and maintenance will cost around £90,000, but estimates suggest the college could make almost £400,000 in profit over the 25-year life of the project through savings and feeding electricity back into the national grid.

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The college, which will merge with Stevenson and Jewel & Esk colleges in October, hopes to save between £2000 and £4000 a year on electricity bills alone.

A display in the college reception will show how much electricity has been generated and how much has been saved.

Other green initiatives being considered by the college, which has 17,000 students and 600 staff, include installing a hydrogen fuel cell system which could fuel eco vehicles.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “I congratulate Edinburgh’s Telford College on the exemplary role it is playing in Scotland’s green energy revolution.”