Nick praises Downlands School's solar panel project
Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert joined a celebration at Downlands Community School in Hassocks on Friday (20 March) at the launch of their solar panel project.
The recent installation of 307 solar panels on the roof of Downlands School is the first major community energy project in the area and has been made possible through the school's partnership with HKD Energy.
HKD Energy is a non-profit social enterprise formed to develop solar energy projects that will benefit the community at local schools, community centres and commercial buildings in the Hassocks, Keymer and Ditchling area.
In November 2014 HKD Energy invited local people to invest in the solar energy project, raising over £100,000 from 48 investors. In February the panels were installed by local firms Solar Resources of Haywards Heath and PDP Solar of Burgess Hill.
The new solar panels will provide the school with an expected 80,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year, saving them more than £150,000 over the next 20 years. The installation also provides the pupils of the school with a greater awareness about energy production and use.
Rose Hetherton, the school’s head teacher, welcomed the MP and public to the celebration event on Friday which provided an opportunity to showcase the project and thank the investors.
Mr Herbert addressed the audience, describing the project as "win-win ... a win for the school through savings made on their electricity bills as well as providing the children with an opportunity to learn about renewable energy, a win for the investors who will see returns on their outlay, and a win for the environment, with reduced dependency on fossil fuels".
HKD Energy’s Chairman, Chris Handel, said that the school’s roof was now a mini power station without noise or pollution. He thanked the team of volunteers on the committee who spent many hours on the project, the investors who supported it, and the school and governors for their support.
Mr Handel said that the group were now ready to move onto the next project and were actively seeking new community sites that would benefit.
Professor Fred Maillardet, a retired engineer and one of the scheme’s investors, explained his reasons for getting involved with the solar project, saying he strongly believed that small scale energy production was the future and hoped to see many more schemes being developed.
Nick Herbert said: "I hope that other local schools and community buildings will be able to benefit from solar panels in this way. This incredibly positive project shows how the potential of solar energy can be realised as well as the power of community schemes which harness local support."
- Photograph – left to right – Rose Hetherton, Head teacher at Downlands Community School, pupil Andrew Budgen, Nick Herbert, Chris Handel, HKD Energy Chairman, Fred Maillardet, Tim French, Solar Resources.
- For more information about HKD Energy see www.hkdenergy.org.uk.