Sunday, June 23, 2024

National Grid to help schools adopt solar power with new partnership

Schools seeking to install solar panels to cut carbon emissions and energy bills are being offered funding in a new venture from National Grid.

The electricity distribution company is launching a funding initiative as part of a five-year pledge to help schools in areas of high economic deprivation to reach net zero goals.

Working with Solar for Schools, it’s looking to give grants for solar projects at schools in its South Wales, South West and Midlands licence areas. The £2.7 million commitment forms part of National Grid’s Social Contract, which aims to add value to the environment and to the lives of communities and colleagues.

Ellie Patey, National Grid Electricity Distribution’s Community Engagement Manager, 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.

“Working together with Solar for Schools means our grants can unlock significant financial and carbon savings, as well as educational benefits, over and above what could have been achieved working in isolation.”

Two Birmingham schools are the first to benefit. The Ark Victoria Academy and Ark Kings Academy have just had new solar systems installed and have saved £3,500 in the last month, with projected savings forecast to be more than £1.2 million over the lifetime of the solar panels.

The solar is also expected to save more than 1,153 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime; equivalent to taking 260 fossil-fuelled cars off the road for a year. The savings made by the schools will be reinvested back into education or vital school infrastructure.

As part of the project, around 2,000 students at the two schools have taken part in hands-on educational workshops, assemblies and a library of STEM-related resources, covering energy, efficiency, sustainability and economics.

Ann Flaherty, Solar for Schools UK Director, said: “Our education programme links the solar on the roof with the curriculum in the classroom. We always say, learn from your school buildings not just inside them. By getting solar on the roofs of schools we’re empowering students and helping them see they can do something locally to reduce carbon, that helps nationally to meet targets, and that’s globally helping to reduce our emissions.”

Bryan Knope, Head of Estates for Ark Schools, said: “We’re delighted to have received this National Grid funding and to be working with Solar for Schools to install photo voltaic panels at our schools in Birmingham, London and Hastings. Reducing CO2 emissions is a top priority for Ark. We’ve set ourselves a tough target to cut consumption by 20% this year, and solar is one of the tools Ark is using to improve sustainability. The live energy-savings dashboard provided by Solar for Schools is also helping us to form a more detailed picture of consumption. Together with smart metering, we’re now able to report in more meaningful ways and use this data to shift behaviour.”

National Grid’s £2.7m grant will ultimately enable Solar for Schools to raise additional funding to enable about £10m worth of solar projects to happen – on schools that would otherwise not be able 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 for National Grid solar panel grants are now open. Schools can find out more about grant eligibility criteria and register their interest at: https://funnel.solarforschools.co.uk/NationalGrid

This article appeared in the May 2024 issue of Energy Manager magazine. Subscribe here.

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