Students in Hertfordshire only have to look up to learn about the power of renewables after nearly 100 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels were fitted on their roof.

Renewable Energy Investments (REI) arranged for the 25.25 kilowatt peak (kWp) system to be fitted free of charge at the new Da Vinci Studio School on the Stevenage campus of North Hertfordshire College (NHC).

It all adds up to cheaper electricity, a reduced carbon footprint and a lesson in green thinking at the dynamic college.

NHC will purchase zero carbon electricity from renewable energy investor and developer REI at a heavily discounted rate under its Solar Power Purchase Scheme.

It will then assume ownership of the system entirely in 20 years. An estimated 10.5 tonnes of CO2e will be saved from entering the atmosphere every year.

Liz Leyden, Commercial Development Manager who worked with Head of Estates Brian Sapsed on the project, said: “The installation delivers real dividends.

“It fits with the college’s sustainability agenda and saves money on our energy bills, which can be diverted into other areas.

“The solar PV system has also captured the students' imagination and we hope to be able to give them the opportunity to monitor the performance of the panels for their studies.

“It is absolutely brilliant from an educational point of view and links perfectly to their curriculum.”

NHC is a further education and higher education college operating in Stevenage, Hitchin, and Letchworth Garden City.

The adjacent Da Vinci Studio School in Stevenage - which opened in November 2013 - is sponsored by the college and focuses on science and engineering.

REI arranged for 92 solar PV panels to be fitted on a flat roof of the school free of charge. It would have cost £35,000 to £40,000 if the college had to buy an equivalent system without REI’s innovative funding model.

Some 25,580 kWh of solar energy will be produced every year.

With the solar energy tariff priced at about 50% of the national grid, the college is expected to save £72,000 from its electricity bills over the next two decades.

Toby Smith, Projects Director at REI, said: “Our fully funded PV model has delivered financial, environmental and educational benefits for the college.

“As well as cutting its carbon footprint, it represents savings which can be spent on priorities elsewhere.

“Importantly, it also provides valuable opportunities for pupils to learn more about solar PV and its role in enabling us to achieve the Government’s renewable energy generation targets.”

Solar panels convert daylight into electricity.