Balcombe 'fracking' village schools get solar panels

Solar panels on cowshed Image copyright PA
Image caption The first panels were installed on a cowshed at Grange Farm in Crawley Down

A solar panel scheme set up in a West Sussex village where anti-fracking protests were held is to be extended to two primary schools.

RepowerBalcombe has installed 69 solar panels on a cowshed in Crawley Down.

Now shares are to be offered for the installation of solar arrays at Balcombe Primary School and Turners Hill Primary School, near Crawley.

The co-operative said it anticipated the Balcombe school would use about 80% of the electricity generated

The rest will be fed into the national grid.

A spokesman for RepowerBalcombe said: "This will save the school approximately £530 on their energy bill each year."

Turners Hill Primary School is expected to use about 50% of the energy it produces, saving £400 each year.

'Match annual demand'

RepowerBalcombe said the pilot installation of 69 panels at Grange Farm would generate just over 1% of the community's electricity, but with the roll out of other projects by the summer, it hoped this would rise to 10%.

Community energy campaigner Leo Murray said: "The ambition of the co-op is to finance and install enough panels to match the village's annual demand."

When the 20-year investment comes to an end, the solar panels, which have a life expectancy of around 40 years, will be gifted to the schools, Mr Murray said.

The minimum investment in the schools' scheme is £250 and the maximum investment is 30% of the total share offer value, RepowerBalcombe said.

More than 1,000 protesters set up camp there in 2013 when energy firm Cuadrilla was test-drilling for oil, amid fears it would lead to fracking.

The company said it had found oil at the site but had no plans to frack for oil "now or in the future" in Balcombe.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites