Low-Carbon Heat Project nearing completion at Royal Alexandra & Albert School.

Eighteen months since the project kicked off, work is nearing completion on the Royal Alexandra and Albert School low-carbon heat project which the company is project-managing.

The project consists of heat pumps in 13 plant rooms serving 18 buildings, with a total capacity of 2.2MW. It will save 750,000 litres of heating oil and 2,300 tons of CO₂ a year. The project is the largest school renewable energy project in the country, as far as we are aware; and an inspiration for sustainable energy in school environments.

The source of the energy is the school’s 260-acre estate. Heat is drawn from pipes sunk into two lakes and from boreholes driven into the chalk of the North Downs.

Synergy Boreholes, the drilling contractor, has drilled 160 boreholes to a depth of 140m.


The lakes have loop collectors consisting of 20km of pipe. These are laid out on the surface of the lake before being filled with a glycol/water mix and sunk.

ISO Energy, the installation contractor, have installed 11 of the 13 planned plant rooms. The two remaining plant rooms have been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but should be operational by 31st March 2021.

Thanks to the renewable heat incentive (RHI) subsidy, the project is economically viable, with a payback of ten years. The project has been funded by a 20-year green energy bank loan from Lloyds Bank, which will be repaid from fuel savings, together with funding from the Government’s RHI. In addition to the new heating system, all the boarding houses have had their insulation improved and lighting changed to LEDs to save energy.

In awarding the RHI incentive to the school, OFGEM recognised the school’s application as an excellent use of the RHI scheme. When the school was reincorporated in 1949, the main objective was to establish and maintain a boarding school for boys and girls who are without one or both parents or whose special circumstances make it desirable that they should go to a boarding school. The organisation has evolved into a State school supported by a charitable foundation. The charity owns the land and buildings and and funds free boarding places for 10% of the children at the school in line with the 1949 Act and the core charitable objective. The school’s philosophy and background make this application of the RHI most suitable and a real beacon of hope for others to follow.

The Trustees of the school took the decision to decarbonise by removing ageing and inefficient oil-fired boilers and replacing them with ground and water source heat pumps. The legacy for the school is huge, converting from high carbon heating oil to the lowest carbon renewable energy technology currently available. Everyone at the school is immensely proud of this achievement.

Opening of the first 2 GSHP plant rooms at Royal Alexandra and Albert School

The first phase of an innovative renewable energy system was switched on at the Royal Alexandra and Albert School today.  As well as being cost-effective the new Ground Source Heating system will mean the School no longer relies on 755,000 litres of oil each year to heat the School and boarding houses.  Two boarding houses now use the new eco-energy, and within 12 months the whole school will be exclusively heated by energy obtained from within the School’s 260 acre estate.  The source of the energy is the bedrock beneath the school and lakes within the park.

Tony Samuels, Chairman of Surrey County Council officially opened the first phase, in the presence of school staff, governors and members of the School’s ECO Society.

The new Ground Source Heating system is believed to be the largest such project in the UK.  Previously the school and its boarding houses were all heated by oil, with 23 separate boiler rooms burning more than three quarters of a million litres of oil per year.  The new scheme will draw heat from 2 lakes and some 170 bore holes driven into the chalk of the North Downs.

Headmaster, Mark Dixon said “The school and all our pupils are very conscious of the implications of burning such vast quantities of fossil fuel for heating. We have been working hard for over a year to come up with a workable system using renewable energy sources.’

“The project is costing over £5million to install. ReEnergise conducted the technical feasibility for the project and economic viability and continue an engagement with the school through project management support.’’

The project will be funded by a 20-year green energy bank loan from Lloyds Bank which will be repaid from fuel savings, together with funding from the Government’s Renewable Heat Initiative. In addition to the new heating system, all the boarding houses have had their insulation improved and the School is changing all its lighting over to LEDs to save energy.  Within 20 years the project will save 15 million litres of oil.

15-year-old Holly Anderson, a member of the Eco-Committee who attended the official opening, said “The ground source heat project is a good idea and a step in the right direction. I hope it inspires other schools and the local community to look at more environmentally friendly solutions.”



Climate Change Action Plan at Charterhouse School

Charterhouse School is keen to promote a low-carbon agenda. This has become an important issue nationally and within the school. Charterhouse pupils have launched their own action plan to make the school more sustainable, ranging from a greater emphasis on sustainability in the school’s strategic plans, to a number of more immediate suggestions. Everyone is keen to take whatever steps are necessary to reduce carbon emissions: there are clear educational, moral, and financial arguments for doing so.

The school has hired ReEnergise to help in this endeavour. Together, studies have been carried out to identify the best opportunities for the school, creating a comprehensive index of potential money and carbon saving projects, ranked by cost versus benefit and full of useful advice on each option.

Work has begun on replacing lights with LEDs, reducing the power demand of the site and in March 2019 we completed the installation of 230kW solar PV on the roofs of the Queen’s Sports Centre (QSC) and Fletcherites New. These buildings were chosen as ideal sites for generating electricity using Solar PV. They have a high, steady usage of electricity and unlike some parts of the school, demand continues during July and August when solar power generation is greatest. The QSC was relatively recently built and has a combination of flat metal roof and sloping tiled roofs orientated to the South, East and West – ideal for solar power. It will significantly reduce the school estate’s carbon emissions by reducing its reliance on grid electricity.

230kW of solar power saves around 70 tonnes of CO₂ per annum.

Completion of 50kW Solar PV array at Ditcham Park in time for the FiT application.

We completed the installation of Solar PV power generation on the roof of the sports centre at Ditcham Park School over February half term. The school centre was chosen over other buildings following a study by ReEnergise which found it offered the best opportunity based on the structural strength of the roof, the south-facing aspect, no restrictive shading, limited line of sight visibility and ease of connection to the school’s power supply. These characteristics and the fact that the Solar PV provides close to 100% usage of the electricity generated, helped to give the school a healthy return of investment of 16% and payback of 7.9 years.

The solar panels specified were based on a higher rating than standard (monocrystalline, 295Wp), providing the full 50kW array and giving a clean aesthetic appearance, which was important to the school, being situated in the South Downs National Park.

The solar system has replaced 24% of existing grid imported electricity, reducing annual CO2 emissions by a similar proportion. The school has been delighted with the result, saying ‘Very pleased with the work undertaken and really excited to hear it is generating already – thanks so much’ (Bursar & Clerk to the Governors).


Repton School Solar PV Installation

We have completed a 50kW solar PV project for Repton School. The work started with modelling of options and feasibility studies for the school’s sports hall. We used the school’s energy usage figures to find the optimum solution in terms of cost and benefit, which resulted in the proposal of a 50 kWp solar array. We worked in conjunction with the school’s mechanical and electrical consultants who were introducing a combined heat and power (CHP) system to the site at the same time. We allowed for peak electricity generation levels when we applied for the solar PV connection to the grid together with a 30 kWe gas-powered CHP.

The solar PV panels were mounted on top of a new steel sheet over-cladding that was being installed on the sports centre roof. The enhanced roof was a proprietary system that required a compatible frame for the installation of solar panels.

The school is proud to promote their low carbon credentials, setting an example to pupils, parents and members of the public. In addition, the school is pleased with the financial returns ReEnergise achieved for them. We secured a high feed-in-tariff rate in spite of the building only achieving a grade ‘F’ on the sports centre’s EPC (Energy Performance Certificate). We did this by applying to OFGEM for an educational exception to the qualification. As a result, the school has 100% usage for the solar electricity and maximum tariff rates.


Sherborne Girls – new Arts Centre

Sherborne Girls School is building a new Arts Centre. Being a performing arts centre the school was keen to have a heating and cooling system that was very quiet in operation. Also being a state-of-the-art building assembled with low-carbon in mind, the school were keen on a heat pump solution.

At ReEnergise we have supported Sherborne Girls with a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) system to provide the cooling and heating requirement. The energy source is a closed-loop borehole array in the playing fields outside the building.

The system can be used to provide underfloor heating and can also be used to provide spatial cooling using a passive circuit to meet low level cooling demands or using an active circuit where cooling demands are higher. Both active and passive modes can act to partially replenish the ground array and, if both heating and cooling modes are utilised, the total annualised seasonal performance factors are expected to be very high, delivering excellent fuel savings and significant carbon emissions reductions.