The UK’s largest school-based Heat Pump project at the Royal Alexandra & Albert School

The Royal Alexandra & Albert School has made a huge improvement to its environmental footprint by installing water and ground source heat pumps to replace its 40 year old, oil-fired boilers. In doing so it has replaced over 90% of its previous use of c. 750,000 litres per annum of oil with electricity from green suppliers, and reduced its carbon emissions by c. 2,000 tonnes per year and its ongoing fuel costs from around 7p/kWh to 4p/kWh. This carbon saving is equivalent to taking almost 1,000 cars off the road.

Inside one of the 13 plant rooms

The school is a voluntary aided state boarding school with 1150 pupils, with around 500 of them being full time boarders. The school undertook a study of potential renewable energy options in 2018, and then started a detailed study on using heat pumps in late 2018 with the joint objectives of becoming “greener” and offsetting the risk of future increases in oil prices. The project was installed during 2020 and early 2021, in the midst of the COVID pandemic.

The scale of the project can be seen by the 13 plant rooms which have been converted, as well as from the 130 vertical boreholes which are 140m deep and also from the 28km of pipe in the main lake, in total generating c. 2.2MW of heat. The £6 million capital cost of the project has been largely funded by normal bank loans and is delivering a positive payback according to Bursar Peter Dawson, who has been one of the main drivers behind the project. The project is also supported by the 20-year Renewable Heat Incentive. As importantly, the system is working well and delivered acceptable levels of heat through the recent cold snap, helped by having installed additional roof insulation as part of the overall project.

Looking forward, plans include more energy efficiency measures such as cavity wall insulation and possibly solar panels.

Congratulations to all involved in this landmark project.

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