The iconic Grade II listed Sandford Parks Lido attracts over 200,000 visits per year, but, like many leisure facilities across the country, its future looked uncertain due to the rising cost of energy bills.
Thankfully, funding was secured from the Enovert Community Trust — which distributes essential funds to support community and environmental projects through the Landfill Communities Fund — and from a donation by local businessman and lido user, Will Merrett, of Gloucester-based olive oil producer Venta del Baron.
The funding was earmarked for investing in renewable energy to help reduce the lido's energy usage and carbon footprint. With heating being the main source of expenditure at the lido, it was decided that installing a solar-powered system would drastically reduce energy bills and provide it with a long-term solution.
The lido's committee enlisted the expertise of renewable energy specialists, Cotswold Energy Group, to complete the project, applying to Cheltenham Borough Council for planning permission to install a solar PV system.
Based in Stonehouse, Cotswold Energy Group, which is part of SCIS Group, assessed the site and designed a 11.6kw solar energy system installation, which involved integrating several moving parts, including 29 400w LONGi panels and one 10kw SolaX Power inverter.
Cotswold Energy's engineers installed and commissioned the system within just three days over the summer of 2023, ensuring minimal disruption to the lido's staff and users, meaning visitors could continue to enjoy the rest of the season.
Jon Bonnar of Cotswold Energy Group said: 'In today’s climate, generating a building’s own electricity using solar panels can be one of the most effective ways to minimise a business’s costs and carbon emissions. For recreational centres with complex energy and heating requirements, such as Sandford Parks Lido, a solar energy system can greatly reduce an organisation’s reliance on the grid, but also its exposure to volatility in energy tariffs.
'We are especially pleased to work with local communities in transitioning to renewable energy. As a UK business with strong ties to this region, we want to empower fellow businesses to benefit from greener energy sources. Most importantly, these commercial benefits also help to protect our community’s environment and the future of our planet — and this is why we do it.'
The project, which cost around £22,000 to complete, is expected to help Sandford Parks Lido avoid an estimated two tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, with thousands of pounds of annual savings on the lido's historically sky-high electricity bills.
The lido can now continue to serve the local community as one of the UK's best outdoor pools for the foreseeable future, providing a diverse range of activities including theatre, cinema, sporting challenges, dog swims, heritage events, community social events and charitable fundraising for local good causes.