Schools wanting radically to axe bills & carbon emissions by installing solar PV panels are to receive new funding from National Grid’s regional DNO arm.

The power distributor is pledging up to £2.7 million until 2029 to help schools in poor areas reach Net Zero goals. Schools in its DNO catchments of south Wales, England’s south west and the Midlands are eligible.

Working with outreach body Solar for Schools, the £2.7 million commitment forms part of NG’s Social Contract, which aims to add value to the environment and to the lives of communities and workers.

Ellie Patey, the DNO’s community engagement manager manages the money. She said: “This new fund aims to help more schools adopt solar power to decarbonise and to reduce energy costs. It’s also an important way to engage pupils in ways to reduce carbon and emissions”.

Two Birmingham colleges have already benefitted.  The Ark Victoria Academy and Ark Kings Academy have had solar systems installed, saving £3,500 in a single month. Over the lifetime of the PV panels, savings are forecast to be more than £1.2 million.

The systems are expected to save more than 1,153 tonnes of CO2 over their lifetime, the same benefit as removing 260 fossil-fuelled cars off the road for a year.  Savings will be channelled back into the schools’ budgets or vital infrastructure.

Educational pluses from the project have already seen 2,000 students at both colleges  take part in workshops & themed assemblies. They have built up a store of STEM-related resources, covering energy, efficiency, sustainability and economics.

“Our education programme links the solar on the roof with the curriculum in the classroom”, declared Ann Flaherty, director at Solar for Schools.  “Learn from your school buildings, not just inside them, is what we say”.

“By getting solar on the roofs, we’re helping students to see they can do something locally to reduce carbon.  That helps meet national targets, and helps globally to reduce emissions.”

Ark Schools’ property head Bryan Knope oversees the foundation’s 39 academies, many in inner cities.  He enthused: “We’re delighted to receive National Grid’s funding and install solar PV at our schools in Birmingham, London and Hastings.

“Reducing CO2 emissions is a top priority for Ark”, Knope added. “We’ve set ourselves a tough target to cut consumption by 20% this year.  Solar for Schools’ live energy-savings dashboard helps provide a detailed picture of consumption”.

National Grid’s £2.7 million is targeted to spur independent investors to raise an intended £10 million, securing more PV arrays on roofs of schools otherwise too poor to “go solar”.

Robert Schrimpff, Solar for Schools’ CEO, said: “We hope that other companies will follow National Grid’s example to drive impactful change and decarbonisation.”

Applications are now open. Schools should look here.


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