Call to make all UK schools 'go green'

Posted: 22 July 2008

The UK government and businesses are being called on to help fit every school in the country with a green energy source by 2020. So far, 100 schools have been provided with solar panels as part of the Green Energy for Schools project - which now aims to reach many more.

The Co-operative Group, which is collaborating with Solarcentury in the project, made the joint call at Peacehaven Community School, East Sussex, as it became the 100th to receive solar panels under the scheme.

Solar panels for Peacehaven School
Solar panels for Peacehaven School
Peacehaven Community School, East Sussex, became the 100th school to receive solar panels under the Green Energy for Schools scheme.
The panels, which cost more than £20,000 to erect, are half funded through the Government's Low Carbon Building Programme (LCBP) with the Co-operative financing the other 50 per cent, at a cost of £1m to date. The solar programme has been managed by Solarcentury, and its Solar4Schools team.

Each system is expected to generate more than 3,400 units of electricity, powering over 18 computers, or 33 thousand hours of computer use, at each school every year.

Heat pumps

Having completed the first phase of the scheme, the Co-operative is now announcing it will invest a further £1m for renewable technologies in schools, and is extending its support to cover Ground Source Heat Pumps, Biomass Boilers and Wind Turbines, as well as solar panels.

It has been calculated that if all 25,000 schools in the England fitted solar panels, 48,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions would be saved annually. This is the equivalent CO2 emissions of over 13 thousand car journeys from London to Sydney, or driving 145 million miles.

As well as saving CO2 emissions, the solar panels could be worth about £550 a year to each school. The electricity generated would save about £350, while from next year the school could expect to earn around £200 as a green energy generator.

Visible symbols

Patrick Allen, Director of Marketing at The Co-operative said: "We believe that solar panels and wind turbines on a school roof make a huge climate change statement to children, teachers and parents. Not only are they highly visible symbols they also generate electricity and help reduce a school's carbon footprint.

"We have shown that it is practical and cost effective, so if other businesses followed our lead every school could have some form of green energy in 12 years time.

"The technology is improving all the time which means that renewables erected at the start of a child's school life will have paid for themselves by the time they leave at 18."

Head teacher of Peacehaven School, Helen Cryer, said: "We are delighted to be the 100th school fortunate enough to receive solar panels by virtue of the forward thinking of the Co-operative in conjunction with Government. The technology will demonstrate the importance of renewable resourcing to our students, both in a scientific and ecological way. This will help tremendously in our efforts to become a more sustainable educational environment."

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, said he was pleased the Co-operative is planning to apply to the Low Carbon Buildings Programme again. "Our recent changes to the funding means, as well as solar panels, wind turbines, biomass boilers and ground source heat pumps can also be installed more affordably. I call on more schools, charities and public buildings to use the Low Carbon Buildings Programme to go green."

Derry Newman, CEO of Solarcentury, said there are still more than 20,000 schools without any renewable energy source. "Let's choose to change that with more businesses joining with the Co-operative to create a better, clean energy future."

Schools interested in applying for the Co-operative Green Energy for schools programme should apply here. Further information on solar in schools can be seen at