SSE Airtricity and Microsoft team up to boost school's energy efficiency

SSE Airtricity and Microsoft, together with the support of government grants from SEAI, have initiated an innovative low-carbon community engagement project that will help to improve the school’s energy efficiency capabilities and deliver energy savings to Collinstown Park Community College in Clondalkin, Dublin every year.

This innovative and sustainable project successfully combines the expertise, capabilities and resources of SSE Airtricity’s Business Energy Solutions division and the Microsoft datacentre team. As part of the project, SSE Airtricity has installed modern low-carbon infrastructure across the Collinstown Park Community College campus, whilst Microsoft has matched the grant funding provided by SEAI, resulting in a total project investment of €250,000 for the school.

The total project funding has been utilised to upgrade the school’s energy efficiency capabilities, including an LED lighting upgrade of the full campus; the installation of roof-mounted solar PV panels that will generate energy up to 8,000KWh of green energy per annum to be consumed on-site; and associated battery storage units that allow the energy generated by the solar panels to be stored when not required for later use.

In addition to annual energy cost savings, further energy innovation research will be enabled through the planned analysis by Microsoft and SSE Airtricity of energy generation data collected remotely from the installed solar PV and battery installations. Live, real-time monitoring of solar PV and battery interaction as well as the school’s energy use will help improve industry insight into how the generation and storage technologies interface, as well as inform improvements to solar forecasting accuracy.

At the core of the Collinstown Park Community College community engagement project is a strong education component designed by SSE Airtricity, Microsoft and SEAI to inform students, staff and parents about renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency. Student and teacher understanding of the deployed technology will be supported by digital screens installed by Microsoft throughout the school to show energy use data in real-time in an easy-to-interpret format.

Collinstown Park Community College students and teachers will also participate in an energy efficiency awareness campaign that will include participating in SSE Airtricity’s ‘21 Day Challenge’ – this will help the school community to establish energy reduction habits through positive sustainability actions. Participating students will also be equipped with home energy saving kits, empowering the young energy citizens to promote greater energy use awareness in the home.

Stephen Gallagher, Director of Business Energy for SSE Ireland, said: “SSE Airtricity is delighted to partner with Microsoft to deliver this truly innovative project. It successfully combines energy efficiency with the integration of renewable energy and battery storage infrastructure, as well as an educational awareness programme for the school, to create an outstanding community engagement project that will also deliver real annual energy and cost savings. Additionally, we’re really excited to see how the energy-saving tools installed at Collinstown Park Community College will enable future learning, both for the school community as well as for SSE Airtricity and Microsoft.”

Eoin Doherty, Microsoft Regional Datacentre Director for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, said: “Building strong communities through partnerships and local engagement is an essential part of the Microsoft ethos. We are proud to partner with SSE Airtricity and SEAI on this project to benefit Collinstown Park Community College. This project appealed to Microsoft specifically because of the educational aspects of the projects that will teach Collinstown Park students how to incorporate environmental sustainability habits into their everyday lives.”

Jim Gannon, Chief Executive of the SEAI, said: "SEAI is pleased to support through the Communities programme the energy retrofit project at Collinstown Park. To date €125 million in community grants has underpinned over €300 million investment in upgrades to 17,500 homes, 2000 non-domestic buildings. The annual energy savings are estimated in excess of €50 million. SEAI’s community activities are designed to help people to become more informed, enabled and in control of their own low carbon future.

"Our community energy network has more than 230-member communities across the country. We help them to create their own plan for a low carbon future for their community and provide support for the capital projects within this plan. This most recent tranche of Government of Ireland funding supports those communities who have identified the priority projects to help them save money and play their part in tackling climate change. SEAI’s 2019 Community Programme is now open for applications."

The Collinstown Park Community College community engagement project delivered by SSE Airtricity and Microsoft, together with the support of SEAI, contains three key elements:

  • Low-carbon Energy Infrastructure – Installation of roof-mounted solar PV panels, battery storage units, and LED lighting upgrades, led by SSE Airtricity with Activ8 Solar Energies and Verde LED
  • Energy Innovation – Monitoring of solar PV and battery interaction will help improve industry understanding of how the generation and storage technologies interact, as well as inform improvements to solar forecasting accuracy
  • Educational Programme – An extended programme of education initiatives including the installation by Microsoft Ireland of digital screen showing real-time energy use data in in an easy-to-interpret format, student participation in a ‘21-Day Challenge’ to improve energy efficiency challenge, and a trip for senior students to Galway Wind Park, Ireland’s largest wind farm, hosted by SSE Airtricity.

The overall project was delivered by SSE Airtricity alongside the company’s strategic partners Activ8 Solar Energies and Verde LED who installed the key solar and lighting elements to enable the innovative energy efficiency infrastructure.

As well as acting as a secondary school setting, Collinstown Park Community College campus serves a wider purpose within the local community. All year round the sports hall offers vital services for sports and leisure, and the school is also an adult education facility.