The regional DNO operation of Britain’s privatised National Grid has chipped in £10,000 towards its first ever direct solar PV installation, generating now on a Gloucestershire school.

Besides its national transmission responsibilities, the National Grid – 2023 operating profits of £ 4.6 billion – is the regional distribution network operator for the Midlands, South West and South Wales.

The company’s Business Plan commits it to ‘build decarbonised communities and local energy schemes by providing £540,000 of shareholder-funded support each year to install solar PV on schools in areas of high economic deprivation’.

A 19kWp system, pictured with staff including principal David Alexander, now powers classrooms at Rednock School, Dursley.  NG-ED promises more installations will follow, focussed on bringing solar power to schools serving deprived communities.

An unnamed local ecologist is monitoring biodiversity net gain and carbon levels.

Ellie Patey, NG’s social obligations officer, hailed Rednock as “a landmark project for National Grid, as we increase our support for local community projects by helping them to decarbonise”.

“This project has helped to shape the model that will be scaled up across our network over the next five years as we deliver on our RIIO-ED2 commitments.

“At National Grid, we’re committed to delivering locally-tailored solutions. which is why the unique insight of local stakeholders, who have a close connection to the community, is so invaluable.

Despite seeking credit for this modest first step, privatised behemoth National Grid lags a decade behind volunteer innovators who target solar roofs for their communities’ schools.

Over 90 school PV systems operate already, thanks alone to work by the Schools Energy Co-op, a spin-off from Energy4All, a big collective of UK co-operatives founded in 2002 by Surrey solicitor Mike Smyth.

Solar Options for Schools, a social impact business, was founded in 2015 by fathers Martin Augustin & Robert.  Besides the UK, it now operates in Germany, Spain & Colombia.

Rednock is  a 1,250-pupil foundation school & sixth form, 13 per cent of them receiving free school meals, and rated “good” by Ofsted in 2018.

National Grid provided £10,000 to install Rednock’s solar PV panels, and £2,000 more towards maintenance. The school’s pupils, staff and parents chipped in to expand the system.

In its 2023 results released last month, National Grid posted operating profits of £4.6 billion.  At £7.7 billion, it is running its biggest ever investment programme, and had allocated £24 million out of its UK Energy Support fund.


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