Drax Foundation helps 148 UK schools save £1.6m in energy costs and reduce their CO2 emissions by 1,700 tonnes

The Drax Foundation, which is the corporate foundation of the renewable energy company Drax Group, launched a three-year programme in 2023 to donate £4.5m to projects that help schools and other community-led organisations to become more energy efficient.

In the first year of operation, the programme has supported the energy education charity, Energy Sparks, and the energy efficient lighting and controls specialists, Goodlight, to work with a combined total of 148 schools, including in areas close to Drax’s UK sites, to reduce their energy bills and carbon emissions.

With support from the Drax Foundation, Energy Sparks has provided 128 schools with free access to its online energy management tool, education programme and support services. Similarly, Drax Foundation funding has enabled Goodlight to kit out 20 schools with energy-efficient LED lighting and sensors.

Through working with Energy Sparks and Goodlight, the schools have saved a combined estimated total of £1.6m on their annual energy bills and reduced their carbon emissions by an estimated 1,684 tonnes.

The Drax Foundation will continue to finance the activities of both organisations throughout 2024, enabling them to work with and support many more schools. The Foundation is also funding the installation of solar panels for some of these schools. To date, one installation has been completed in Northampton, and it will complete two further installations in the Selby area over the next few months again helping reduce energy bills and carbon emissions.

Drax Foundation’s work with Goodlight and Energy Sparks has been shortlisted for an award in the Community category in the British Renewable Energy Awards 2024.

Shona King, Head of Community at Drax Group, said:

“We are proud that Drax Foundation has supported nearly 150 schools to save money on their energy bills and reduce their impact on the environment. We want to go even further this year, installing solar panels and LED lighting for more schools and helping them to engage their pupils in energy efficiency and actions to mitigate the impact of climate change.

“It’s important to us to help children start thinking about saving energy and reducing their carbon footprint from a young age as these issues are going to be increasingly important for them in the future.”

Case studies:

Kirk Sandall Junior School:

With support from the Drax Foundation, Goodlight worked with Kirk Sandall Junior School, Doncaster, to upgrade their lighting system to efficient LEDs. The upgrade has saved the school an estimated:

  • 20.85 tonnes of carbon emissions
  • £11,694 on their annual energy bills
  • 38,498 kWh of electricity

Kathy Thompson, Executive Headteacher at Kirk Sandall Junior School, said:

“It’s so important that businesses support their communities and this initiative by the Drax Foundation is a really great way to help us save money, especially at the moment when energy costs and prices in general are so high. It also teaches pupils about the impact we have on our environment and how we can act responsibly to save energy.”

Northampton Academy:

With support from the Drax Foundation, Energy Sparks worked with the Northampton Academy to rollout the use of their analysis tools. The school is one of the largest in the East Midlands with 1,700 students. The tools enabled the school to establish that the heating had been programmed to run when no one was at the site on Sundays, this has now been switched off saving the school around £200 each weekend.

Since starting to work with Energy Sparks the school reduce its gas consumption by 40% and save an estimated:

  • 80 tonnes of carbon emissions
  • £34,000 on energy bills
  • 450,000 kWh of electricity

David Reed, Facilities Manager at Northampton Academy, said:

“What we have done is nothing extreme. The main driver and trigger was actually the Energy Sparks programme because it inspired us to be more focused on what we were doing. The main thing for me was, don’t assume it’s right without checking, take time to have a look as it is worth doing for everyone.”