Scottish School Gets Lesson in Solar Thermal Energy

A unique experiment in classroom learning was launched last week by Jim Wallace, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister. Children at an Aberdeen school will be able to monitor the effectiveness of the UK’s largest solar energy system which has been installed to heat the swimming pool at their school, the Bridge of Don Academy. The project will provide a unique lesson in renewable energy for pupils at the Academy.

The 180 square meter installation will cover the entire roof of the pool with 60 evacuated tube solar panels. Despite Aberdeen being further north than Moscow, Aberdeen City Council is one of a number of local authorities turning to solar heating for swimming pools. To help pupils at the Academy learn about renewable energy and understand how solar heating works, Romay Solar Heating, the specialist company installing the system is supplying a large scale digital display for the pupils to see how much energy is being produced by the new system. There will also be a cable feed to the school’s IT department so that the effect of the energy collected can be seen on the school’s computers for teaching purposes. Tony Book, Managing Director of Riomay Solar Heating, is also Vice Chairman of the International Solar Energy Society and a member of the World Renewable Energy Network (WREN). A keen campaigner for renewable energy, Mr Book says the Aberdeen project could be replicated in other schools around the UK. “We know from experience at a school in Poland, where we did a similar educational exercise, that children are very switched on to global environmental issues,” Mr. Book said. “Being able to monitor how energy is being produced from the sun and converted into heating really grabs their attention.” Mr Book has also worked with the school’s Media Studies pupils to produce a short video of the installation and the solar energy process. Although based on the South Coast of England, Riomay has been responsible for solar installations on a number of major development and regeneration sites around the UK and Europe. Recent projects include Gatwick Airport, Windsor Castle, HM Cardiff Prison, Fife Council, Habinteg (Ulster) Housing Association and a secondary school in Warsaw. Riomay is currently working with several other schools and colleges and Tony Book is keen to encourage them to replicate the Aberdeen classroom experience. The pool running costs are estimated to be in the region of GBP 10,000 to GBP 12,000 (USD 18,000 to 22,000 per year). The roof construction of the swimming pool is timber deck and as such is most suited to the chosen design, as that allows the collectors to be flat mounted causing no uplift wind loading.
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