Thursday, March 23

40,000 euros less on the electricity bill: this is the commitment of schools to solar energy

The solar installation carried out by the company E4e Soluciones at the Miramadrid school.

Many schools anticipate the Government’s plans to use solar panels in public buildings and set an example of the future model

The Government has just approved a plan to reduce dependence on energy supply from non-renewable sources of its own administration. To do this, it will encourage the majority of possible public buildings to install solar panels on their roofs with which to supply themselves with clean energy. The goal is to go from the 1,500 megawatts (MW) from solar energy that had been registered in 2021 to almost 9,000 MW in 2030.

This path towards greater energy self-consumption, to avoid dependence on fossil fuels, takes the administration buildings themselves as a platform to serve as an example to other sectors of society, increasingly involved in this model, such as companies and homes. individuals.

Those who have proven to be the vanguard in the field of public services have been many schools that have made this investment to rationalize their electricity bill. From them you can get the experience to know what advantages these facilities have and, above all, what pitfalls are encountered when undertaking this more ‘green’ path.

The Miramadrid school is one of them. César Aceituno is the president of the cooperative that manages this concerted school, which for almost a year has had solar panels that cover 40% of its roof. He recalls that the educational community wanted to undertake this installation before the pandemic, but that it forced the work to be postponed. But it was finally done last year, even before the increase in the cost of electricity was known.

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“It was a way to save money and to have a gesture towards the educational community in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals,” he explains when talking about the real reasons that led the center to undertake this change.

The feasibility study

Before putting solar panels on the roof of a building, an energy audit must be carried out, one technical and one economic. The first analyzes the electricity consumption pattern of at least the last calendar year of the center. “With this, the energy needs of the center are established when designing the photovoltaic installation,” explains Jesús Bustos, from the company E4e Soluciones, in charge of the Miramadrid project.

In the technical audit, the location of the building is analyzed in order to know the amount of solar irradiation that the installation will receive. «With these two previous pieces of information, the engineering teams can start designing the installation with approved software, taking into account the shadows and the inclination that the solar panels will have towards the sun. The installation will always be designed taking into account the needs of the center, since oversizing guarantees that more electricity can be produced for self-consumption, but that does not mean that the center will consume it if it is not adapted to its needs and characteristics”, he details. busts.

How much does it cost and how long does it take to pay off? It is profitable?

Finally, the economic audit calculates the cost of the installation and the amortization periods. “Not always a photovoltaic project is economically viable, although it could be technically, for example, in territories where there are fewer hours of sunshine or because the center’s consumption pattern could be carried out mainly at night,” he says. the person in charge of E4e Solutions.

Although this cost will depend a lot on the type of installation, broadly speaking, Bustos assures that the price of an installation for self-consumption will be around 650 euros/kwp up to 1,500 euros/kwp, although he stresses that “this price will vary depending on the size of the installation and the technology to be used.

In the case of the Miramadrid school, Aceituno assures that the savings figure depends on the month, but that it is between 25 and 45%. “This represents considerable energy savings. The forecast we have is that this year represents a saving in gross terms of almost 40,000 euros.

This spokesperson for the school assures that all the energy demand of the center is not met because they do not have batteries to store energy, which means that when there are clouds or at night they continue to depend on other sources.

As for the amortization period, it depends on the use made of the solar installation. “The more energy the center consumes during the hours of greatest insolation, the shorter the amortization time will be, since the energy will be consumed from the solar installation, preferably before from the conventional distribution network,” explains Bustos.

Taking into account the current high electricity prices, an installation could be amortized over periods of around four years. “If we add municipal tax rebates to this, such as IBI or direct subsidies from NEXTGENEU funds, the plant can even be free,” says Bustos.

Overcome the hurdles of bureaucracy

Getting to this point is not easy at all. The greatest difficulties are, according to the experience reported in this case, bureaucratic.

Although Aceituno speaks of the aid and subsidies that exist to carry out these investments, he acknowledges that the processing has been carried out by the installation company.

Moreover, it recommends that, in order to make a bet of this type, trust those companies that are capable of managing these aids. «In addition to asking for budgets, you have to be very attentive to technical and feasibility issues, as well as after-sales service. I would also advise them to be very vigilant about the company helping them with subsidies », he explains.

In his case, and being an institution with more than 2,100 students, the aid was 10%. “If we had been a small company, the help would have been greater,” he acknowledges.

Despite having this help to process the grants, he assures that they have put “many deadline difficulties.” In fact, he continues, “we have the grant granted, but they have not yet made it effective.”

In addition, this difficulty in carrying out procedures has prevented the school from being able to carry out more actions with this facility. “We also wanted to be able to pour excess energy into the grid or look for some type of batteries, but due to bureaucratic issues we have backed down and have only installed self-consumption,” lamented this person in charge.

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