Marlborough Primary School - Solar PV Installation 2018

Marlborough Primary School - Solar PV Installation 2018

Marlborough Primary School is part of the REAch South Academy Trust. The Primary School is based in the heart of Plymouth and is in an old granite building that has proven hard to heat and light effectively resulting in large energy bills.


Bright Spark Energy were asked to design a solution that not only reduced the energy consumption of the buildings but also to improve lighting quality.  We were asked to provide a Solar PV system in conjunction with an LED Lighting project to reduce the reliance on grid bought electricity.  The School was using 69,500 kWhs per annum for Electricity paying a high electricity rate.

Solar PV System – reducing the energy from the grid.

We proposed and installed a 49.8KWp Solar PV System at Marlborough Primary School subsidised by a Social Enterprise operating rental with no upfront cost to the School. 

Using the standard MCS yield calculator we calculated the following yields for the installation. 


Performance 12 months on

We have been tracking the performance of the Solar PV system as the O&M partner to the social enterprise funder using the Meter Online enabled Solar PV Meter– in the past 12 months the system has worked well and outperformed our initial expectations. 

Expected Actual

Yield (kWhs) 49,950 . 52,667.8

Export (kWhs) 7,492 27.3

Electricity Saving (£) 5,094.90 6,320.14

FITs Income (£) 2,157.84 2,275.25

Export Income (£) 367.88 0

The School has consumed almost all of the Solar PV generated maximising self-consumption and increasing the savings generated to be re-invested back in to Teaching and Learning.

After paying the operating rental quarterly in arrears the Primary School will generation a net saving of £ 3,100.01 to invest back into the social mission of the fund – to further the educational outcomes of disadvantaged children.


 Customer Contact Details:

Ian Carnwell – Director of the Learning Environment

Web:  |

Twitter: @ReachSouth1

Cutting energy costs - is renewable energy the answer?

Cutting energy costs - is renewable energy the answer?

Becoming more environmentally sustainable is becoming increasingly more important from a financial perspective as well as the right thing to do says Mark Stevenson, Director at Bright Spark Energy. 

How you can make your home energy efficient.

How you can make your home energy efficient.

Being more energy conscious will not only help you to save your hard-earned money, but will reduce your carbon footprint, helping to save the planet one ‘switch’ at a time. This is achievable by making a number of small changes to your daily life.

LED Lighting upgrade at Springhill Academy

LED Lighting upgrade at Springhill Academy

See how upgrading to LED Lighting at Springhill Primary Academy at no capital cost, resulted in better teaching and learning environments, up to 80% savings on electricity costs and a 13 year warranty.

Steyning Downland Scheme Gateway Building

Steyning Downland Scheme Gateway Building

The Steyning Downland Scheme engages the local community and young people in particular, in enhancing the natural beauty of 165 acres of the South Downs National Park for the benefit of the community, the land and its wildlife. They are a registered charity, run in accordance with Christian values, partnering with the Wiston Estate, the National Park Authority, A Rocha UK and local volunteers.

The Charity has recently completed the construction of a new 'gateway' building at the entrance to their Nature Reserve for use by schools, community groups and the general public.

Matthew Thomas, Project Manager of Steyning Downland Scheme and Tara Kennard, Business Manager of Bright Spark Energy.

Matthew Thomas, Project Manager of Steyning Downland Scheme and Tara Kennard, Business Manager of Bright Spark Energy.

The Problem

Matthew Thomas, Project Manager at the Downland Scheme, contacted Bright Spark Energy to work with the Scheme to provide power to the Gateway Building to charge tools and electronic learning resources and lighting for function and external lighting for Solar PV.

The Gateway Building provided a number of challenges.  Because of the age of the distribution network in the area, providing mains electricity was not a cost-effective option so our Solar PV design team had to come up with a number of other options.

The Solution

At Bright Spark we have a history of designing and installing off grid Solar PV systems with battery storage, so we designed a bespoke Solar PV system for the Downland Schemes Gateway Building.  The Off-Grid System included:

·      260w Yingli Solar Panels x 5

·      Victron Blue Solar MPPT

·      Victron Phoenix Inverter

·      Victron Super AGM Super Cycle M8 Batteries x 2

·      New Distribution Board with new LED IP rated Lighting, External Bulkheads with MW sensors         and an             LED PIR Spotlight.

The system will have the following characteristics:

The Solar Panels on the Gateway Building.

The Solar Panels on the Gateway Building.

The team at the Gateway were very happy with the end result. 

“We’re extremely grateful to Bright Spark Energy for helping us out with a power supply for the Gateway” said Matthew Thomas, SDS Project Manager. “Now we can fit lighting inside, which will be a huge help, particularly for those short, winter days when we do most of our habitat conservation work”.

Donating the System to the Downland Scheme.

 We were so excited about the project we decided to sponsor the gateway building by donating the Solar PV system with battery storage and the LED lighting.

“Part of our ethos is to invest our time and profits back into working on local community projects such as the Steyning Downland Scheme.  I was very impressed by the work they have been doing and the positive impact it will have on the local schools and wider community.  Mark Stevenson, Managing Director, Bright Spark Energy.


Charlie and Saul installing the Charge Controller and Inverter.

Charlie and Saul installing the Charge Controller and Inverter.

How Bright Spark Energy helped a company significantly save on rising electricity bills!

How Bright Spark Energy helped a company significantly save on rising electricity bills!

On Reflection Mirrors is the leading specialist antique mirror dealers in the UK.  The company is run from a Barn in the village of Charlton Horethorne in Somerset.

The company’s electricity bills were rising significantly in order to effectively light and heat the showroom, restoration workshop and offices.  Electricity costs were approx. £ 2,500 per annum and rising.  The work areas had a mix of 5ft and 6ft T8/T12 and traditional fluorescent lighting, track lighting and additional lamps plugged into sockets to provide a good enough lighting level.  Heating was a mix of electric and infrared heating panels.  All of these panels were at least five years old and not very efficient.

Bright Spark were asked to design a solution that not only reduced the energy consumption of the buildings but also to improve lighting quality.  We were also asked to provide a Solar PV system to reduce the reliance on grid bought electricity.

Solar PV System

The showroom was in the curtilage of a grade 2 listed building so Bright Spark worked with the customer and the local Planners to develop a scheme that met local planning requirements.  It was important to minimise the impact of the Solar panels on the aesthetics of the building so through dialogue and a number of different iterations all parties agreed on a solution.

We proposed a 6.84KWp Solar PV System with all black JA Solar 285w panels and 2 Solis Inverters.  Our installers also ensured that all of the mid clamps, end clamps and the end of the mounting rails were sprayed black to fit in with the surroundings.

Using the standard MCS yield calculator we calculated the following yields for the installation. 

This had the following pay back based on the low electricity cost of 10.45p.


Overall it is estimated that the customer will save approx. £ 23,000 over the 20 years of the FITs period based on an RPI of 2.5% per annum and an EPI of 5% per annum.

LED Lighting

The existing lighting in the building was of a poor quality and inefficient.  During the Solar PV installation our team also swapped over the lighting.  The mirror showroom was a real challenge to light effectively.  In order to replace the track lighting and old fluorescent battens we redesigned the lighting scheme to maximise the effect of the stock below.  We chose a 4000k “Neutral White” color with an opal diffuser to soften the spread of light.

Lighting quality – pre installation.

Lighting quality – pre installation.

Impact of the LED Lighting.

Impact of the LED Lighting.

The benefits of the LED lighting upgrade have included:

  ·       72% reduction in energy usage

·       Better quality lighting improving the showroom and working


·       Reduction in heat during the summer months

·       Significantly reduced maintenance costs with a long term 10-year           


Overall the LED installation cost £ 657.38 plus VAT with a payback period of 2.4 years.

Next Steps:

The customer has recently contacted us to further investigate the opportunity of Battery Storage linked to the Solar PV system and new high efficiency heating panels for the showroom and working areas.


Customer Contact Details:

Mrs Alison Roelich

Managing Director,

On Reflection Mirrors, Bull Inn Farmhouse, Horse Lane, Charlton Horethorne, Somerset, DT9 4NL

01963 220723 / 07971 889093

The Southern Business Awards 2018

The Southern Business Awards 2018

Bright Spark Energy are very excited to announce we will be sponsoring and presenting the award for 'Green Business of the year' at The Southern Business Awards 2018.

The Southern Business Awards celebrate business excellence within the South Coast. These awards are in its 8th year and are organised by the Johnston Press South Events team who are dedicated to recognising, rewarding and celebrating local businesses.

The awards ceremony will take place on Friday, September 7th 2018 at the Grand Hotel Brighton and will be presented by Vicky Edwards who will take the reins at the glittering gala evening.

Bright Spark Energy are always keen to support local businesses and are excited to be apart of this years awards. For more information or if you would like to purchase tickets please visit;




Bright Spark Energy are lighting up the gateway ...

Bright Spark Energy are lighting up the gateway ...

The Steyning Downland Scheme Charity has recently completed the construction of a new 'gateway' building at the entrance to their Nature Reserve for use by schools, community groups and the general public.  The team at Bright Spark will sponsor the gateway building by donating an “off-grid” Solar PV system with battery storage and LED lighting to extend the use of the building to all year round.

We are progressing, evolving and expanding!

We are progressing, evolving and expanding!

The Bright Spark Energy Eco-Barn is progressing, the Bright Spark Energy team is expanding, and the Bright Spark Energy company is evolving!

We are extremely excited to tell you that, Bright Spark is branching out into Electrical Services!

Bright Sparks Eco Barn Progress ...

Bright Sparks Eco Barn Progress ...

The Bright Spark team have been working extremely hard over the last few weeks converting our very own HQ and Eco Barn just outside of Arundel, West Sussex. 

Save Your School Money by Saving Energy!

Save Your School Money by Saving Energy!

As energy experts here at Bright Spark, we offer some suggestions for how schools can not only cut their energy bills but also make a profit in the process...

Introducing our newest Spark team member!

Introducing our newest Spark team member!

The Bright Spark Team is growing, and not just in terms of our company and office space!  After relocating the company from London to a new headquarters in Warningcamp in West Sussex, we knew that we needed to have a team member who not only could help expand the business but also knows the local area.

New year, new energy plan...?

New year, new energy plan...?

At the start of a new year we all have our resolutions to improve ourselves. But how about resolving to improve our schools’ energy expenditure? Here at Bright Spark Energy we thought we would share some useful guidance for schools – looking at how you can best mitigate against rising energy costs and why saving energy is less complicated than it seems.

It may surprise you to know that the majority of homes, offices and schools in the UK are inefficient; a large number of buildings were constructed in the 70s or earlier and are, therefore, not well-insulated and have an aging built environment. With falling capital improvement budgets comes a greater need than ever for investment in green technologies. The education sector needs to become more sustainable in the long-term, opening up the opportunity to reinvest the savings made from energy projects back into teaching and learning.

Some ways that schools can make 2018 their greenest year yet

Know your provider

There are innumerable options for energy providers and, with limited time and resources, it’s not always easy to determine the one that’s best suited for your school. Rushing into a contract without reading all of the small print can lead to some costly blunders. For example, some providers may ask schools to buy equipment outright with a very short warranty on LED lighting – i.e. under 10 years. This would mean that, if the LED lighting were to break, it could leave school leaders with the unsatisfactory option of buying brand new – and potentially expensive – replacements.

Other suppliers might sign schools into leasing deals that don’t meet DfE guidelines – for example, ‘rent-a-roof’ or ‘shared saving’ schemes that never deliver what was promised.

Change to LED lights

Lighting is the biggest cost to running buildings and most schools still use fluorescent lights which were advertised as energy-saving when they were introduced, but are now considered wasteful.

LED luminaires are known to be up to 80% more efficient, have a longer life (up to 50,000 hours), better light quality and lower maintenance requirements and heat output. Switching to LED lights can lead to energy savings of around 70%, while estimates of savings when switching outdoor lights, like those on sporting grounds or in parking lots, can be around 75%.

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Control your heating

It is true that turning down your heating by one degree will save you money but, in order to make a bigger impact and not risk freezing your pupils, we would advise that you invest in an intelligent heating system that allows you to split the school into zones and heat these only when needed, rather than the typical ‘on all the time’ or ‘twice–a-day, everyday’, schedules which most schools abide by. This kind of upgrade not only leads to long-term savings on energy, but also provides improved the comfort indoors – a welcome feeling in these chilly months.

Get everyone involved

We know that students can often be the most enthusiastic adopters of social campaigns and that’s why we suggest that you turn this into a school-wide movement. Utilise eye-catching signs and regular announcements to draw attention to wasted energy. Put the power in the hands of staff and students to improve efficiency and allow them to do their part to express environmental consciousness; you might be surprised how much energy can be saved when your students proactively turn out the lights!

Go solar

Solar Photovoltaics, or Solar PV for short, is technology that many within the UK have become accustomed to as a renewable energy resource. In its simplest terms, it is a technology that converts daylight into electrical power, which can then be used to light (and in some cases heat) a building, saving costs on grid-purchased energy.

In 2014, the government produced a report discussing the benefits of Solar PV including the ability to reduce electricity bills, reduce CO2 emissions, generate surplus for schools and create opportunities for sustainability education for students.

The New Year is the perfect time to re-evaluate your school’s energy usage and determine whether a change in energy contracts, or new lighting or renewable technologies, could save you money in the long-term.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or connect with us on LinkedIn!

Cutting back on the budget - is renewable energy the answer?

Cutting back on the budget - is renewable energy the answer?

School budgets are on everyone’s minds. With budgets being squeezed, the pressure to find solutions that can help schools save money and reduce the pressure on school leaders and teachers grows. Small, proactive changes can actually be a great way for schools to save money, while larger investments can be a vital part of a longer-term sustainability strategy. 

Here I explore some important environmental changes, big and small, that schools can look at implementing, including how they would work within schools, the benefits that they bring and the different funding and providers that are available to assist schools with larger investments. 

The smaller changes

Schools are often very environmentally conscious, especially when it comes to things such as green spaces and encouraging children to explore and respect the nature around them. Small changes made every day in the classroom can quickly add up and result in real savings. For example, if teachers turn off the lights, PCs and projectors in their classroom between lessons and at the end of the day, this can save a substantial amount of money! This small action can be turned into an activity for the classroom, too. Pupils could be assigned the role of ‘light marshalls’ who have the responsibility to turn the lights off when classrooms are not used. Another option is to get pupils to monitor the classroom temperature as part of a lesson, enabling children to learn about science, finances and responsibility while also saving the school money!  Turning down the temperature in the classrooms a few degrees will save a lot over a long winter.

Another investment would be LED Lighting. LED Lighting is often labelled ‘the future of lighting’, due to the very little energy it uses and its ability to last a very long time, not to mention the positive impact to the quality of teaching and learning spaces. LED lighting uses up to 75% less energy and lasts up to 10x longer than traditional types of lighting. Switching the lighting has obvious benefits, funding models are available so there is upfront capital cost and it has the potential for long-term financial savings.  

Larger investments

For schools that are thinking long-term, larger investments such as switching to renewable energy options can save the school money while also providing other substantial benefits to the environment and the classroom! 

Solar Photovolatics, also known as Solar PV for short, is a piece of technology that features heavily in our lives, with homes as well as businesses and schools using solar PV to heat their home. It has been often been viewed as an alternative to traditional methods like fossil fuels. In its simplest terms, it is a technology that allows for daylight to be converted into electrical power. 

The Government highlighted within a 2012 report the benefits that Solar PV can provide, including the ability to reduce Co2 emissions, reduce electricity bills and generate a financial surplus for schools once they have installed Solar PV systems. 

One school that we worked closely with, Beccles Primary Academy, actually managed to use their solar energy to power lunches!  The Academy upgraded their kitchens to use Electric ovens and the electricity bills soared.  Our team designed a Solar installation to be the most efficient when the ovens were on, so the Solar is cooking the school dinners at the moment.  Installed in November, it has been estimated that the solar power will generate 53% of the Academies’ electricity requirements onsite, reducing their reliance on grid bought electricity. 

Funding options

It’s all well and good speaking about long-term investments, such as switching to solar panel energy, but if schools are aiming to cut back on expenditure, it can be difficult to find the initial investment despite the obvious benefits it could bring. 

However, there are funding options available that aim to help schools invest in renewable energy, while also protecting their finances and providing long-term protection against faulty or damaged equipment. For example, Bright Sparks funding partner, Less Is More Capital provides schools with funding in order to generate a surplus, which can then be reinvested back into learning. 

The funding scheme estimates that for every £1 that is put into schools’ renewable energy options it will generate £3-4 from renewable energy innovations that can then be reinvested back into the schools, for example to provide new materials for learners. 

Funding such as this often comes with better warranty timescales, with the Less Is More Capital and its partners offering warranty for 13 years, providing security should the equipment be faulty or get damaged. Other organisations tend to skim on warranties, which could then leave schools with little option but to either spend additional money to replace damages or use faulty equipment. 

Final thoughts

Small everyday steps can help schools to cut back on their expenditure and when used creatively they can be integrated into fun, educational activities for the classroom. Although the larger, longer term investments such as Solar PV may be costly to begin with, they can also bring great benefits to the school, to the bank balance and to the environment. Finally, it is important to remember that there is funding available for schools to ease this process, providing them with valuable financial security is important so that schools can reap the financial and environmental benefits for a very long time. 

We welcome you to our brand new Eco Barn HQ!

We welcome you to our brand new Eco Barn HQ!

... 2018 is an exciting year for the Bright Spark Team, after completing over 40 Solar and LED Projects in 2017 across England and Wales, we thought it was time to regroup and relocate the company from London to a new headquarters near Arundel in West Sussex.

However, that is not the only exciting news! We are self-building our very own renewable project – our Eco Barn! The Eco Barn represents everything we are passionate about; saving our customers money, energy and reducing the overall carbon footprint in the UK. We thought to ourselves, what better way to show how committed we are to this, than to showcase our work in our everyday workspace! After all, if we want to work in it, you’ll want it in your school or business, right?

The new Eco Barn will highlight the various energy efficiency options that we can provide. This includes the use of Solar PV and battery storage, LED lighting, Infra-Red Heating and high levels of insulation, and the barn will eventually become our everyday base and HQ.  We have also tried to be as sustainable as possible with the construction by using local small businesses, locally sourced materials and the most energy efficient technologies. 

It has also been a great team building exercise for us, and a completely internal project with works undertaken by our very own Bright Spark Team, Mark, Grant, Saul, Charlie and Chris (as well as Tara on tea duty!).

Mark, the Managing Director of Bright Spark, said “Moving the company down to the West Sussex coast has been great for us.  Instead of spending money on extortionate London rent we can instead invest in the right people to join our team and help us grow.  The talent available in the local area mixed with the improved standard of living has made a real difference.  We are looking forward to becoming part of the community here in Arundel!”

The barn is still very much in its early days right now, but we’re excited to get the project finished and have our very own cosy barn, all while helping the planet!  We are already starting to build long lasting relationships with schools, businesses and providers in the area and become part of the community.  Keep your eyes peeled for our barn updates which will be shared through our social media channels as well as our blog pages!!