Clouds gather to inspect Notts solar development

The educational institutes of the UK are housing the brains behind our greener, cleaner future: of that there can be little doubt.

But Schools, colleges and universities up and down the land aren’t exactly shirking right now, either, with many trying to generate (see what I did there?) a renewable overhaul on campus.

And it’s not just renewables on shiny glass postmodernist educational monoliths – 629 year-old Winchester College is getting in on the act. Business Green recently reported the school’s plans to pack 500 solar panels on its roofs, with an aim of generating a not-insignificant 103MWh.

There are companies out there making a bit of a specialism out of helping listing buildings reduce their often hefty carbon footprints with renewables, and indeed it was one of these, Freewatt, that were brought in to make things happen at Winchester.

Reading – appropriately, some might say – seems to be where it’s at in the educational renewables game. At two of the town’s University campuses, over 200 panels have been fitted, with the aim of cutting 16,415 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The younger generations of Reading are being shown the sustainable way first hand too, with Christ the King Primary, Ranikhet Primary School and Caversham Children’s Centre all speculating on the potential harvest of south-facing roofs, in conjunction with the Borough Council.

Incidentally, this is not the only creative use of local authority investment on local buildings we’re seeing: Bishop’s Castle Town Council even decided to utilise the roof space of a public toilet block for a solar array.

But away from sanitary services and back to the world of academia; but also away from solar PV to solar water heating. At Nottingham Trent University, new student accommodation is equipped with one of the largest sets of vacuum tube collectors in the UK. 727 of those long shower-prone students will be benefitting.

Martin Dowd from the company behind the epic install, MG Renewables tells a told a tale of change to Green Building Press:

“We launched our company five years ago when most people thought of solar power as science fiction. That’s all changed now, as more and more people and institutions wake up to the benefits of renewable energy.”

From providing heat and electricity to the students of today, to tackling skills shortages by training the renewable experts of tomorrow, North Tyneside are leading the way. The Energy Academy in Wallsend currently has 80 students and is expecting an influx as the former science fiction becomes a practical proposition across our roofs.