Fringe Box



£6m for Schools’ Solar Roof Panels and a Greener Future

Published on: 2 Aug, 2023
Updated on: 4 Aug, 2023

Worplesdon Primary School Google Street View

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

Schools across Surrey, including Worplesdon Primary School, are having their outdated end-of-life gas boilers replaced with new solar heating systems to help combat “skyrocketing” energy prices.

The £6 million project is split between time-sensitive government cash coupled with Surrey County Council’s “greener futures” fund which it says will be “effectively repaid’ via £1.6 million in overall savings from cheaper fuel bills – or through reduced energy tariffs to schools.

The work will be carried out over the summer and is scheduled to be completed before the start of the new school year.

This is not only to minimise disruption but also because the government contracts are time-bound, meaning if it is not used, the cash is lost.

SCC’s greener futures strategy says evidence that climate change is real is beyond doubt and its effects are already being felt.

It says an increase in man-made greenhouse gases will impact on the “health, wellbeing and finances of Surrey’s residents, businesses, landscapes and biodiversity for many years to come” and as such, the county intends “to play its part by reducing its dependency on fossil fuels”.

Cllr Marisa Heath

Tuesday’s, July 25, environment meeting heard from lead councillor Marisa Heath (Con, Englefield Green) who said one of the chosen schools told her they were “absolutely thrilled because they’ve got skyrocketing energy prices and can’t even get the temperature right”.

She said: “They’re really excited that we’re working with them on this.

“It’s a great program proposal.

“We need to move it on as we’ve been successful in getting government money.”

Other schools in the first group to benefit from the new heating panels are: Beauclerc Infant School, in Sunbury, Kingswood Primary School, in Lower Kingswood, St Peters Centre, in Englefield Green and Park Mead Primary School, in Cranleigh.

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Responses to £6m for Schools’ Solar Roof Panels and a Greener Future

  1. Mark Stamp Reply

    August 2, 2023 at 4:39 pm

    Why are these central government grants time limited? This just encourages on-the-hoof decision-making which won’t usually deliver value for money against a well-planned, comprehensive plan to fit solar panels to all suitable public buildings. This would enable better bulk buying discounts and more certainty to train up in house staff rather than relying on employing external consultants for piecemeal contracts.

    • Martin Elliott Reply

      August 4, 2023 at 10:03 pm

      Another thought is that government grants are not free money.

      It’s still money collected by taxation. It’s very interesting if you actually do some proper financial balancing rather than political sleight of hand.

      It should be remembered that these schemes are rarely done on a proper engineering view of likely performance and uncertainty. Instead, they are based on a rather optimistic best performance possible.

      We have a rather good example locally in the Woking Station Solar Canopy. Removed after a few years because maintenance was high and performance low.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    August 2, 2023 at 5:04 pm

    At long last a sensible policy!

    Where did SCC find this common-sense?

  3. Mr Keith Francis Reply

    August 3, 2023 at 3:14 pm

    Just the sniff of “new” government money makes SCC jump up and down so why is there to my knowledge only a State Primary School in Fetcham which has had solar panels on its roof for many years?
    The owner of the company which installed solar panels on my roof over 11 1/2 years ago embarrassed David Cameron when she asked him at a business lunch “why as result of your change in policies did I have to make half of my staff redundant before Christmas?” He could only mumble in reply. [This was on the BBC Evening News!]

    All the “campaigns” aren’t by any chance connected to next year’s General Election? When will be the next SCC election?

  4. Ken Powell Reply

    August 6, 2023 at 9:21 am

    Why aren’t they going for the heat pumps that the government wants everyone to go over to when changing out boilers? As the solar panels will not help during a harsh winter and will need to be replaced when their life runs out and it’s hard to recycle them.

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