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Last Updated: Monday, 3 November, 2003, 12:54 GMT
Pupil audit fuels solar roof bid
Caereinion High School
The solar power roof idea came after an energy audit by pupils
One of the largest solar power schemes in Wales is being considered for school in Powys - thanks to a pupil survey.

Solar panels planned for the roof of Caereinion High School at Llanfair Caereinion would provide enough power for the school as well as cut its fuel bills - and any surplus would be sold to the national grid for public use.

The 800,000 scheme has won the backing of the Powys Council Board, which already has a solar power scheme operating at its county headquarters in Llandrindod Wells.

An application for 300,000 grant funding for the project is now before the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

If approved, the scheme would be capable of producing up to 70KW of electricity for the 565- pupil school.

Any surplus power produced at weekends and in holiday periods sold to the National Grid.

Only one other scheme - at a military establishment at St Asaph in north Wales - would have a similar power output, according to a Powys Council spokesman.

We as a school have a duty to walk the walk as well as talk the talk with regard to energy issues
David Charles, head teacher

"The idea for this project started with pupils who did an energy audit at the school," said Caereinion's head teacher David Charles.

"We as a school have a duty to walk the walk as well as talk the talk with regard to energy issues and the matter was then taken up by assembly member Mick Bates who knew there were grants available for such schemes."

"If the scheme goes ahead it has the potential of producing more electricity than the school needs, particularly at weekends and holiday periods"

That power surplus could be sold off and the income generated used to fund other energy efficient schemes in Powys schools, said Mr Charles.

Powys County Hall
Powys Council HQ is installing a solar energy scheme

The project could save the school as much as 3,000 a year in fuel bills.

It is part of the council's drive to encourage the take-up of renewable energy projects.

Plans for a new 500,000 roof at the school were approved by the council last year.

But the extra 300,000 cost of installing the special solar panel roof would be funded entirely by the DTI.

"The Caereinion High School project is far more ambitious and truly demonstrates our commitment to renewable energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions," said Councillor Jack Evans, the board's portfolio member for county buildings.

"A tremendous amount of hard work has been done to investigate the feasibility of this ambitious scheme and we hope that effort pays off with a successful grant bid."

The grant application was submitted last month and a decision by the DTI is expected by the end of the year.

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