Solar for Schools launches partnership with National Grid (Apr 18, 2024)

Schools across South Wales, the South West and the Midlands that have been considering solar will welcome today's big annoucement. As part of a £2.7m commitment by National Grid, we are working to help many, many more schools cut their carbon emissions and make dramatic savings to their energy bills.

From Friday 19 April, we are welcoming applications for a new funding initiative, in partnership with National Grid which forms part of a five-year pledge by the organisation to help schools in areas of high economic deprivation to reach net zero goals.

The five-year plan, part of National Grid's Social Contract programme, invites schools to apply for a grant, which will help unlock huge savings in energy and carbon, as well as allowing schools in deprived areas to become more self-sufficient.

“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", says Ellie Patey, National Grid Electricity Distribution’s Community Engagement Manager. “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 recently had new solar systems installed and have saved more than £3,500 in the last month alone, with projected savings forecast to be more than £1.2 million over the lifetime of the solar panels.

ABOVE: The Ark Victoria Academy in Birmingham.

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.”

ABOVE: Solar for Schools 'Schools Ambassador', Danielle Parker, talks to a student at Ark Kings about the potential of solar energy.

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 photovoltaic 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, so having a far greater impact all round. 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 here.

ABOVE: Sanchi Singh, one of Solar for Schools Education Team, helps students use the Solar Explorer Kit.

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