HMS Raleigh, the Royal Navy’s shore-based training establishment in Cornwall, is reaping the benefits of a new solar thermal system that has been installed by Kier.

The solar technology heats the centre’s main swimming pool, which is used extensively for sea survival training and during the Royal Navy’s ten week basic training course.

The solar system comprises 69 panels which generate over 30,000kWh of energy each year, as well as saving in excess of 7,800kg of CO2 by reducing the load on the conventional heating system.

The thermal technology works by connecting solar panels – which convert UV radiation from the sun to heat – to a heat exchanger, which then supplies this heat to the pool. Swimming pools are particularly suited to using solar thermal as there is a constant demand for the heat generated.

Managing director of Kier’s energy solutions arm, Nigel Sheppard, said, “We are extremely proud to be able to work with the Royal Navy to help the senior service to take advantage of the latest developments in renewable technology. As energy prices continue to soar, we are seeing a growing demand from pool owners to replace expensive traditional heating systems with greener alternatives.

“Installing solar power for swimming pools is a relatively short term investment that has long term benefits and, after allowing for fuel savings, tax allowances and payments, payback periods generally last between six and eight years.”

Heating a swimming pool has always been a costly exercise, a situation made worse by increasing fuel costs. To encourage commercial pool owners to replace expensive fossil fuels with cheaper, more sustainable alternatives, the government has launched the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which offsets the cost of installing solar power systems.

As a result, the technology is becoming increasingly attractive for clients in the public and private sectors and Kier is currently tendering for a number of other pool contracts.