Somercotes Academy goes green with pioneering new heat pump and solar panels

Oil-fired boilers are being replaced at a Lincolnshire school in a ground-breaking environmental scheme that will cut energy bills and reduce its carbon footprint.

By the impressive new pump are, from left, Rob Middleton, Facilities Officer at Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust, James Brown, year 10, Frances Green, principal, Martin Brown, Chief Executive Officer at Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust, Mia Stubbs, year 10, and Mark Shadbolt, Facilities Manager at Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust.
By the impressive new pump are, from left, Rob Middleton, Facilities Officer at Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust, James Brown, year 10, Frances Green, principal, Martin Brown, Chief Executive Officer at Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust, Mia Stubbs, year 10, and Mark Shadbolt, Facilities Manager at Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust.

A £200,000, 7.5-tonne heat pump thought to be the first of its kind in northern Lincolnshire, will replace the 31-year-old system at Somercotes Academy to help provide the heating and hot water.

The Academy, part of the Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust, secured the funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of its Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, delivered by Salix Finance.

The £520,000 project has also seen 359 solar panels installed on the Academy’s roof and internal lights switched to LED, and is expected to save more than 3,000 tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide being emitted into the earth’s atmosphere over 25 years.

Martin Brown, chief executive at Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust, said unpredictable and increasing costs of oil, together with the opportunity of funding, prompted the move.

“Somercotes is our only Academy where heating is provided by oil,” he said.

“We’re proud to be installing energy efficient, air source heat pump technology and showing our students we are reducing our environmental impact, something as young people they feel very strongly about.

“The scheme will also help with rising energy costs. Oil for the old boiler system costs around £20,000 annually, expected to rise to between £25,000 and £30,000 this winter.”

The air source heat pump is estimated to save almost £9,000 a year and the solar panels more than £12,000 through on-site generation.

“With all the improvements, we’re anticipating a cost saving of £21,000 annually, money which can be used to benefit students elsewhere in the Academy,” said Mr Brown.

The project was driven by Rob Middleton, Facilities Officer at LGAT.

He said: “I saw the scheme through doing some research last October and we heard of our successful bid in February, so it’s been a long road to this point.

“It’s going to have a dramatic impact on our carbon emissions. The heat pump will reduce the carbon dioxide produced every year by 69 percent, preventing 98 tonnes going into the atmosphere annually. The solar panels will account for a further 26 tonnes and changing to LED lights 25 tonnes.”

The switch from oil to the heat pump is scheduled to be completed in the February half term, and the solar panels are already generating up to 50 percent of the school’s required energy, with the heat pump making up the shortfall.

Principal Frances Green said students had engaged with the project from the start: “They are excited about its positive impact on the planet,” she said.

“They know the days of being reliant on fossil fuels are over and we have to explore alternative ways of keeping ourselves warm and providing hot water.

“I would like to thank the Lincolnshire Gateway Estates and Facilities Team for their work on this exciting environmental project.”