THE University of Brighton and Brighton Energy Co-operative are building on the success of their collaborative solar photovoltaic (PV) installation at the university’s Varley Park student accommodation in Brighton with a new project at the campus in Eastbourne.

The airspace above the roofs of Hillbrow Sports Centre and Robert Dodd Annexe will be leased to Brighton Energy Co-operative for 20 years, who will install 538 solar PV panels at no cost to the University.

The university will then pay Brighton Energy Co-operative for the electricity generated by the panels, saving approximately a third off the price of grid electricity.

This not only reduces the cost of powering the university’s buildings, but also provides security against fluctuating energy costs.

The solar arrays, with 120kW capacity at Hillbrow and 28kW capacity at Robert Dodd Annexe, will generate 150,000 kWh clean electricity each year, enough to power 35 UK households.

This will save the university more than £6,000 each year and cut annual carbon emissions by 60 tonnes CO2.

Abigail Dombey, the university’s environmental manager, said: “At a time of reducing budgets, we can still install new solar PV panels and increase onsite renewable energy generation, thanks to this ground-breaking agreement with Brighton Energy Co-operative.”

During the 20 years of the lease, the arrays are expected to save the university more than £125,000 and more than 1,200 tonnes of carbon emmissions.

After the lease expires, the university will take ownership of the solar arrays at no cost and will benefit from the free electricity generated by the solar panels.

The construction work will be carried out during the next few months by Brighton Energy Co-operative’s installation partner, Genfit.

With this ambitious project, the university will bring its total installed onsite solar PV capacity to 433kW – including the 209kW owned by Brighton Energy Co-operative – and over 1,580 panels.

The combined solar arrays will provide 3 per cent of the university’s overall electricity demand and reduce annual CO2 emissions by 178 tonnes.

Brighton Energy-Cooperative, whose solar PV arrays are funded through their investors, have now amassed a portfolio of well over 1 megawatt of installed capacity in the South East.

Energy co-operatives are growing in number across the country, and the University of Brighton is one of the first in the country to enter into this sort of “roof-lease”agreement with an energy co-op.