In a radical new move, Edinburgh's Jewel & Esk College have declared plans to install vast solar panels to power the site. The college is a popular landmark in the city, and is usually on the itinerary for any sightseeing stay at a luxury hotel Edinburgh. The city is set to become one of Britain’s pioneers in large-scale solar power, if the plan is successful.
The exact proposal details the installation of a total of 800 solar panels, a massive construction which Jewel & Esk College are already referring to as a ‘solar meadow’. The 800 panels are likely to produce somewhere in the region of 1,076KW of energy a day – enough that the college will be totally self-sufficient, and able to literally unplug itself from the electricity grid!
Loathe to create something that turns out to be an eyesore, the College are planning to plant the area with a colourful selection of grasses and wildflowers – hence the term ‘solar meadow’. It is hoped that not only will the project prove to reduce the carbon footprint of the college, but that it will also provide a new habitat for a wide range of insects, birds and other fauna.
Early estimates suggest that the array of solar panels will cost no less than £300,000 to build… a princely sum, but it can be justified when you consider the £150,000 that will be saved each following year, as a result. It is planned that any surplus electricity from the solar meadow will be made available to other community groups and projects, so the proposal has certainly been met with approval from the college’s neighbours.
The planning application for the solar meadow was submitted to Midlothian Council for approval in early 2011. It is expected to become a new landmark for the city, and will be within easy reach of tourists staying at hotels near Edinburgh Castle.
The college have been quoted as calling the plans “tremendously exciting,” and look forward to the day when they can become less reliant on government funding.