In one of Scotland’s largest solar power projects, Oatridge College in West Lothian is set to save 60% on its National Grid energy demands as well as thousands of pounds a year on electricity and gas bills.

As well as reducing the release of a substantial 20 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year, the College will benefit from regular feed-in tariff payments by utilising renewable energy.

All of this comes from the installation of 204 photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate electricity and a smaller array of solar thermal panels to provide hot water. Assumed as the first major solar installation in the Scottish educational sector, the £140,000 investment in the PV panels will be restricted to 50kW of power, meaning Oatridge will receive the maximum feed-in tariff from the Government.

The college has also received support from Energy Savings Trust to help cover the £60,000 cost of the solar thermal element.

Principal David James said, “With budgets getting tighter and energy costs set to rocket in the coming years, this development makes sound economic sense. In doing this we have also helped to support the construction industry and keep people in jobs, so as far as I am concerned it is a win-win situation.

Now that the system is up and running, we want it to be a demonstration site for the landbased industries and the rest of the education sector in Scotland.”

And proof will be on display for all to see, thanks to a screen in the College’s reception showing real time and cumulative energy savings.

It is anticipated all of the electricity produced by the Oatridge plants will be used by the College, with any excess to feed back into the National Grid.