The Regional Ministry of Education and Sport of the Andalusian Regional Government, through the Andalusian Public Agency for Education, has started bioclimatisation and renewable energy works in ten schools in the province of Almeria, consisting of the installation of an adiabatic cooling system supported by photovoltaic solar energy and which will involve an investment of more than 2.7 million euros, including projects and works. A total of 33 such projects are programmed in the province, with an estimated budget of 10.8 million euros. Of the remaining 23 works, four have already been contracted and are awaiting commencement, five are in the contracting phase and fourteen are in the planning stage.
The works consist, on the one hand, of the installation of adiabatic cooling to combat the high temperatures in the classrooms during the summer months, and on the other hand, of the installation of photovoltaic solar panels for the production of electricity. In this way, both the needs for improving air conditioning in schools and institutes and their energy savings, sustainability and efficiency are covered.
Specifically, it is estimated that the 33 photovoltaic solar panel installations planned in Almeria will produce an overall energy output of 922,647 kWh/year and will prevent the emission of around 480 tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
In the city of Almeria, where more than 50% of the works in this programme are concentrated, six projects have already begun. Specifically, in the Juan Ramón Jiménez and Inés Relaño Infant and Primary Education Centres (CEIP); and in the Nicolás Salmerón Alonso, Los Ángeles, Al-Ándalus and Bahía de Almería Secondary Education Institutes (IES). Work is also underway at the IES Campos de Níjar and San Isidro, both in Níjar; Mediterráneo in Garrucha and Manuel de Góngora in Tabernas.
In total, 15 schools, one special education centre and 17 secondary schools throughout the province will benefit from these interventions in nine municipalities in Almería: Almería (17 actions), Garrucha (3), Huércal de Almería (2), Macael (2), Níjar (4), Olula del Río (2), Rioja (1), Benahadux (1) and Tabernas (1). The selected centres are located in the areas with the most severe summer weather.
Pioneering plan in Andalusia
These interventions are part of the bioclimatisation and renewable energy programme included in the Education Infrastructure Plan of the Regional Ministry of Education and Sport, which plans to work in 430 schools in Andalusia with an estimated budget of 140 million euros. This is the first time that the Andalusian Regional Government has tackled the problem of heat in classrooms with the implementation of bioclimatisation systems which, as a complement, are accompanied by renewable energies to reduce the cost of electricity consumption, which represents an important step forward in the updating and modernisation of public schools in the region.
Adiabatic cooling is an ecological air conditioning system, an alternative to conventional air conditioning, which lowers the interior temperature of classrooms by evaporating water. Its main advantages are lower electricity consumption (up to 80% less than air conditioning) and reduced CO2 emissions. It also works with the windows open and always uses fresh air, without recirculation, improving its quality. Other characteristics are that it does not use polluting cooling liquids, does not dry out the environment and avoids sudden changes in temperature.
As for the photovoltaic solar panels, with a power per installation of 15 kilowatts, in addition to reducing electricity costs for the centres, they will also reduce individual and global CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The energy generated will be used for self-consumption, with the possibility of being fed into the grid.
These actions have European funding through the REACT-EU funds (Andalusia ERDF Operational Programme 2014-2020), as part of the EU response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All of them are being contracted through the Framework Agreement for works launched by the Agency to speed up the time taken to award contracts and start refurbishment work in schools.