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How Microgrids Deliver Cost and Carbon Savings for Independent Education






While the cost pressures faced by publicly funded education has been well documented in the media, independent education providers have also faced significant pressures. Last year, TES warned that financial pressures stemming from the energy crisis could force a substantial increase in fees. 

At the same time, initiatives such as the Let’s Go Zero campaign means that there is a growing expectation for schools to lead by example when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and environmental impact. Groups including the Association of Colleges have called for a focus on better climate and environmental impact education, and engaging students with the importance of net zero, as a key aspect if the UK is to achieve its carbon reduction goals.  

For independent schools in particular, carbon reduction takes on a further importance. For many parents and students, the environmental performance of a school is one area they increasingly factor in when choosing a school. 

Why Microgrids could be the ideal solution 

The campus nature of many school sites can make effective energy management, as well as delivering improvements to infrastructure, a challenge. Separate buildings, often of significantly different ages, and a choppy demand profile that can fall to almost nothing for significant periods during holidays, makes getting a clear picture of how a site is using energy, and how it can be improved, difficult. 

It is precisely this kind of site that is typically ideal for a microgrid solution. A microgrid is a small-scale, localised electricity system that while connected to the grid, is also able to operate independently. By combining on-site generation with energy storage, a smart microgrid delivers more reliable, affordable electricity across a site or area. 

Many schools have the space to install on-site generation and battery energy storage, the building blocks of a smart microgrid that reduces reliance on expensive grid supplied electricity. The addition of intelligent energy management software allows the peaks and troughs in demand profile to be smoothed out much more effectively. During periods of peak demand, stored energy can be used to minimise the cost of grid power, while during weekends and holidays on-site generation combined with battery storage has the potential to both remove the need for grid supply entirely, but also recharge batteries for use when demand picks up again. 

Making better use of on-site generation, as well an energy management system that can make intelligent choices on how to use electricity most efficiently, also helps to reduce carbon emissions as well as costs. The emergency power function of some battery energy storage systems can also be invaluable when it comes to protecting servers and data in the event of a sudden power disruption. The real-time monitoring and reporting that comes with a smart microgrid solution also gives insight into how a school is using power even when no staff are on site, allowing issues such as systems that have been left on over a holiday period to be promptly identified and resolved. 

Find out more about Powerstar’s smart microgrid solutions here 

Smart Microgrids

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