TWO producers of knowledge have now become the Southend borough’s biggest solar energy producers.

More than 750 solar panels have been fitted on the roof of Temple Sutton Primary School, in Eastern Avenue, with another 401 installed at Southend Adult Community College, in Ambleside Drive.

Together the panels will provide 270,000kwh of electricity a year, nearly 60 per cent of their combined energy demand.

The initial £1.9million investment in the panels is being made by Southend Council on the school and college’s behalf and they will then use part of the energy cost savings to pay the authority back in the long term.

Temple Sutton headteacher, Tim Barrett, said: “The pupils at the school are really interested in environmental issues and have been keen to engage in activities around energy saving.

“There’s no doubt that green energy has an increasing role to play in meeting the country’s energy needs and we’re proud that our students will be at the forefront of the renewable energy revolution.”

The solar panel installations are just one part of a large investment programme in energy savings at the two sites.

Other measures will include solar-thermal cells, biomass boilers, ground-source heat pumps, LED lighting, extra insulation, heating controls and double glazing.

It is estimated that 437 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be saved every year from the measures, enough to fill 219 hot air balloons.

Gazette:

The solar panels in situ on the roof of Southend Adult Community College

Sue Hasty, principal of Southend Adult Community College, said: “It’s clear that we all must find a way to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and that renewable energy is an important part of the energy mix in future.

“With prices for micro-generation such as solar panels coming down, this means that we are able to save money as well as carbon, leaving us more to invest in computers, e-learning technology and teaching resources.”

The council itself set up its own energy company this year and is in the process of replacing all street lights with efficient LED lamps and Mary Betson, councillor for enterprise, tourism and economic development, welcomed the school’s efforts to reduce their carbon footprints.

She said: “The work by both the school and college highlights how forward-thinking education providers can harness environmental technology to become leaner and greener, thereby saving money which they can reinvest in education.”