Schools’ Energy Co-op celebrates 50th solar installation on Clean Air Day

‘Installations save schools money on their electricity bills, which allows them to direct funds to other areas’

To mark Clean Air Day on 20 June, the Schools’ Energy Co-operative celebrated the installation of its 50th solar panel system – at Perivale Primary School, in Ealing, London.

The Schools’ Energy Co-operative – which won Inspiring Co-op of the Year at the Co-op of the Year Awards last weekend – is a not-for profit scheme that supports schools’ efforts to cut their carbon emissions and generate green energy – which saves them money and teaches children about sustainability.

The installation and maintenance costs of the systems are covered by share offers to the local community using a crowd funding model.

Perivale Primary School is the 10th school in Ealing to join the scheme, and the 12th in London.

The co-op is developing 26 more schemes in the capital, including seven more installations in Ealing, alongside local sustainability group Ealing Transition. The group has worked with Ealing Council to find suitable schools for the scheme, and provides support to enable the Schools’ Energy Co-op to offer locals the chance to invest in the solar panel schemes.

As of June 2019, the solar panel systems installed on schools across the UK by the Schools’ Energy Co-operative are expected to produce around 1.7 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity each year. That is enough to power about 500 typical UK homes, or to make more than 25 million cups of tea.

Compared with using natural gas to generate electricity, the expected savings are around 800 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year, for at least the next 20 years. The carbon dioxide saved is equivalent to reducing car use by almost 7 million miles a year.

Mike Smyth, volunteer chair of the Schools’ Energy Co-operative, said: “Each of the installations at schools in London and up and down the country has happened thanks to the collaboration and support of local people who all want to see their neighbourhood school generating clean energy.

“Installations save schools money on their electricity bills, which allows them to direct funds to other areas like books or playground equipment. And, importantly, they normalise green energy. Children see how renewable energy works, and it becomes a school-gates conversation, showing a way to help tackle the climate emergency at a local level.”