The power of the sun is helping keep over 900 pupils of a £30 million new super school warm as toast as the first frosts of winter bite – and saving £10,000 a year on electricity bills.
North Wales ‘green’ energy specialists Hafod Renewables fitted 250 solar panels on the roof of the state-of-the-art school which accepted its first intake of students in September.
It’s a special contract for Hafod Managing Director David Jones, a former pupil of Holywell High School which the new school has replaced.
The Denbigh-based firm were called in to ensure the thoroughly modern school has a 21st century power supply which will help generate 70,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to run 14 houses.
David, who was brought up in Caerwys, said: “It was very special going back to Holywell to help provide this fantastic new school for the town and the area.
“I enjoyed my time there and it enabled me to go on to become an electrician and gain a degree in Renewable Energy so it’s great to be able to pay something back as well as to be part of what is a wonderful development by Flintshire County Council.
“It was quite a complex project because we were working on a roof that was 15 metres up and parts of it were curved and as well as getting the panels up there we also had to get enough ballast up to stop them being blown away.”
That meant as well as the panels weighing five tons they had to hire a crane to lift 40 tons of bagged stone aggregate onto the roof to anchor the panels which are mounted in frames angled to catch the maximum amount of sunlight.
The system will ensure that the new school generates up to 20 per cent of its energy through solar power, saving over £250,000 over the guaranteed 25-year lifespan of the panels and over 30 tons of carbon annually.
Hafod Renewables won the £130,000 contract to provide the solar energy element of the new school’s power system by main electrical contractors Walsh Integrated Building Services.
The panels will help power the complex which houses a 600-pupil secondary school, Ysgol Treffynnon and 315-pupil Maes-y-Felin Primary School which have replaced the former Holywell High School and local primary schools Ysgol Perth y Terfyn Infants and Ysgol y Fron Junior School.
Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Youth, Councillor Chris Bithell, a former teacher at Holywell High School, said: I’m delighted to be here today to celebrate this fantastic modern school.
“Our commitment to getting local contractors involved in the construction of the school proved very successful and that’s why these innovative solar panels have been installed by a local company.
“Flintshire’s commitment to investing in our schools under the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Education Programme continues as does our commitment to local communities and local businesses.”
Solar power will feed into a generating room at the advanced new school which will have underfloor heating throughout the ground floor, including the 220-seat catering hall.
Elsewhere the school will boast a recording studio, soundproofed doors, and a social area as well as 14 en-suite classrooms, a library, and a large main hall.
The solar power is part of a sophisticated automatic climate control system which will switch on fans, open windows, and operate the air conditioning system.
The new school, built by main contractor and construction giant Galliford Try, has now also been shortlisted for the BIM (Building Information Modelling) Project of the Year.
Hafod Renewables, based on Denbigh’s Colomendy Industrial Estate, was founded six years ago by David, an electrician and graduate in Renewable Energy and his father, Richard, a heating engineer, when the solar industry, fuelled by a generous feed-in tariff, was booming.
A Government cut to that tariff has driven many firms out of the business but Hafod, which employs six staff, has continued to grow as the company has expanded into other areas such as ground source heat pumps and underfloor heating.
In those six years – Hafod Renewables installed their first system in July 2010 – they have fitted over 10,000 solar panels, stacked end on end they would tower over 29,028 foot Mount Everest.
Most of their clients have been domestic solar systems but as well as the new Holywell school they have also installed solar power on farms, businesses including one of Wales’s biggest boatyards and a rugby club as well as providing biomass boilers and air and ground-source heating systems.