Sixty students from five Cornish schools and colleges have successfully completed projects to help local businesses use energy more efficiently and investigate renewable technology opportunities.
The project is the first of its kind in the UK to link businesses with students to work on energy efficiency projects and is part of the Schools for Intelligent Energy Use (SIEU) Project – a European programme funded by Intelligent Energy Europe, with eleven partners across nine EU countries.
After three months of work, students from Cornwall College Camborne, Duchy College Stoke Climsland, Camborne Science and Community College, Launceston College and Treviglas Community College presented their recommendations to their business ‘clients’ at a celebration event at the Penventon Park Hotel in Redruth.
The UK element of the SIEU programme is being delivered by Community Energy Plus, Cornwall’s leading charity delivering local solutions to fuel poverty, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Clare Langdon, Senior Project Officer at Community Energy Plus said: “I’m delighted with the success of our first SIEU project. It’s been wonderful to see the students grow in confidence and knowledge about sustainable energy use, they have clearly all done a lot of research and all gave very professional presentations, clearly outlining their findings and the payback periods of installing the recommended technology. The feedback that I’ve had from the businesses has been very encouraging and we look forward to starting our second SIEU project shortly to build on the success of what we have achieved in this ground breaking educational project.”
The Penventon Park Hotel in Redruth has been working with ‘A’level student Stacey Webber from Camborne Science and Community College to investigate how they can save energy on lighting.
Jess Billington, Sales and Marketing Manager at the Penventon said: “Working with Stacey has proved to be really useful for us to realise how much energy we are wasting unnecessarily. Hopefully we can use some of her feedback and implement it in the hotel to use low energy lighting and reduce our CO2 emissions by nearly 4,000kg a year. Stacey has been a great help and we’re really proud to have worked with the college on this project.”
A total of 17 students from Launceston College took part in the SIEU project. A group of students from Launceston College have been researching how the town’s Pheonix Leisure Centre can reduce its energy use. Mike Titchin, Assistant Manager at Phoenix Leisure Centre said: “The students have proposed that we install a pool cover and also LED lights for the squash court. Both ideas are definitely things that we can look at and I was surprised at how much money we can save.”
Callington based Tamar Foods were similarly impressed by the proposals by their paired group of students from Launceston College. Tom Parrott, Health, Safety and Environmental Manager for Tamar Foods said: “The group that we worked with came up with some really great suggestions about how we can use the new feed-in tariffs to reduce the payback period of certain renewable projects that we probably wouldn’t have considered before because they wouldn’t have been financially viable. The students delivered a brilliant project and I’m very pleased with the information they’ve provided.”
Duchy College Stoke Climsland BTEC National Diploma Countryside students have been working with Deer Park Farm at Luckett, near Callington. Martin Howlett, owner of Deer Park Farm said: “We constantly strive to make improvements to our farm business through best practice and this has given us a golden opportunity to listen to what the students have proposed and hopefully act upon some of their sound advice. We have the ability to grow our own energy resource on the farm in the form of Miscanthus and clearly as an energy crop there is the potential to use it on the farm to help us move towards becoming self sufficient in our energy needs and the research by the students will help us to investigate this opportunity further.”
Duchy College Stoke Climsland lecturer Jurie Intachat said: “This project has been a really good experience for the students because it has allowed them to work independently and see what it’s like working in the real world by putting the theory of what they’ve learned on the sustainable development module into practice.”
Students from Cornwall College Camborne’s Renewable Energy Technologies Foundation Degree worked with the National Trust to recommend how they can reduce the carbon footprint of their holiday cottages at Cadgwith. Alastair Cameron, Property Manager for the National Trust on The Lizard and Penrose said: The students came up with an interesting project to install a biomass boiler. They highlighted the government’s renewable heat incentives which could make a major difference to the cost of the project as it has the potential to help us pay for the technology in just six years, making it a very feasible project.”
The SIEU programme has helped students from Treviglas Community College in Newquay to complete an ‘A’level Applied Science coursework project, as student Mark Aston explained: “Our project involved looking into how we could save energy in one particular room in the school and then identify how to apply the general principles across the entire school to save energy. We used specialist equipment to monitor the energy consumption of the classroom over one week then put signs around the room to encourage people to change their behaviour and use energy more intelligently before measuring the energy use once again. We managed to increase the room temperature by one degree just by keeping doors closed and shutting curtains at night. We learnt a lot from the project and hope that our findings will be taken on board by the school to reduce energy bills andCO2 emissions.”
After Easter, Community Energy Plus will be working with Cornwall College Camborne to link a number of courses with local business for the second phase of the Schools for Intelligent Energy Use Programme.
The success of the SIEU project was recognised at a European level recently when Community Energy Plus was invited to attend the EU Thematic Forum on school and business co-operation as a best practice project. The objective of the conference, which was held in Brussels on 24-25 March, was to highlight and explore best practice projects, knowledge transfer and identify ways in which the EU can support the development of high quality school business initiatives in the future.