Successful pilot scheme means solar schools project set for takeoff

Carbon cutting group 10:10 aims to launch a nationwide Solar Schools programme. A recent pilot scheme has concluded successfully and now the scheme is set for its UK launch.

The new scheme, called the Solar Schools Project, was launched in association with Mumsnet and has embraced the latest online fundraising techniques in order to help raise awareness and support. It works by giving schools a platform by which they can crowd source necessary funds for solar PV installation. Each school has a virtual ‘solar roof’ allocated to it complete with blank solar panels. Interested parties such as parents, businesses and alumni are then invited to sponsor sections of the roof, the money going towards the purchase of solar panels.

When the pilot scheme was launched in 2011 five schools managed to raise £70,000 towards the cost of solar panels. One of these, EP Collier Primary School in Reading, managed to secure over £11.070 in as little as nine weeks. Following the success of the pilot scheme, the project will be launched officially throughout the UK in September with the aim of helping 100 schools to go solar over the forthcoming year. Online and offline resources will be provided along with staff training, support and educational resources including advice on fundraising and publicity.

Mary Shorland, Bursar at EP Collier School, said: “Solar Schools has unlocked the potential within our school community and identified that for many local businesses they were just waiting to be asked for help. This increased engagement has the potential to have a long-term benefit for our school.”

The crowd sourcing technique not only allows a valuable method of fundraising but also a means by which schools can engage with their local community. Those schools that manage to raise enough funds, thereby allowing them to obtain solar panels, can then benefit further from the government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme (FiTS). The overall aim is to enable schools to cut their carbon emissions but also allows them to increase their budgets through FiTS.

Angela Bryant, 10:10’s Executive Director, commented: “Solar panels are an incredible investment and a great way to teach pupils about energy and climate change. But with budgets squeezed, most schools struggle to afford the up-front investment”

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