PLANS to create a giant “solar meadow” have been unveiled by a Scottish college.
Education bosses want to turn a one acre site, adjacent to Jewel & Esk College’s Midlothian Campus, into a large-scale solar energy generator with up to 800 solar panels.
They hope the £300,000 project will make the college self-sufficient with electricity and not reliant on the National Grid.
They say the move will save them £150,000 a year and will have paid for itself in just two years.
Surplus electricity will be made available to local community groups and projects, reducing their energy costs.
As well as the commercial benefits for the College, the site will become an outdoor classroom for engineering students to gather data and understand the technology.
The ground will be planted with thousands of wild flowers and grasses, allowing students to analyse the interaction between biodiversity and the panels, as well as monitor and assess the operation and performance of the solar panels.
Work on the Solar Meadow will start early next year and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Professor Steve Tinsley, energy expert and newly appointed Director of Innovation and Enterprise at Jewel & Esk College will lead the Solar Meadow project, he said: “This is a tremendously exciting project for us. In creating the Solar Meadow, we are providing the first teaching facility of its kind in Scotland for our students and lecturers, whilst developing innovative ways for the college to become less reliant on Government funding.
“Such projects will help up-skill the next generation of engineers and play an essential role in closing the skills gap in low carbon technologies. Knowledge transfer on this level can also significantly benefit our industry partners and the economy as a whole.”
The planning application was submitted to Midlothian Council at the beginning of November.