To get the best use of solar photovoltaic systems comes when larger systems are installed on building that are occupied during the day. Schools are a prime example of the good use of solar. The electricity that is generated at source is used at source which cuts down energy loss and makes more financial sense as most electricity is bought from your supplier at around 13 pence and sold back to the grid at around 3 pence.
Installing solar panels on schools is also a great way to educate people. Not only the children that go to that school but also the parents of the children and the local community get to see exactly what solar PV is and how it is benefiting the school. This may encourage the installation of solar on the homes of school pupils.
Schools can benefit from generating their own solar energy. Renewable energy not only has the benefit of generating clean electricity but now also has many financial benefits. To get solar for your school you can either buy a system or take advantage of one of the free solar panels for schools schemes.
Other than the obvious environmental and educational benefits a school could not only benefit from lower electricity bills but also benefit financially over the long term. Generating electricity through Solar PV means that you will receive payments for up to 25 years for all of the clean electricity that the school generates.
Under the current feed in tariff rates school solar projects would be self funded meaning that any initial investment should be more than paid back through the FiT payments and savings on electricity bills.
There are many ways in which schools have raised the funds to pay for their own installation including grants and fund raising by the local community. Whilst most schools may not be able to afford the initial investment to install solar there are other ways to benefit from free electricity for your school.
There are a number of schemes that are helping schools go green by offering free or low cost solar installations. The Solar For Schools scheme run by Solar Century provides affordable solar for schools with their leased and hosted options. Rather than paying for the installation outright you can lease and pay back the initial cost through the FiT payments the school would receive.
The hosted scheme offered through Solar Century's solar for schools scheme is the closest to a free installation that they offer. You pay a small up front amount and they pay for and manage the installation whilst you benefit from the free electricity that they panels generate.
The British Gas solar panels for schools scheme provides free solar installation to schools through their My School Solar website. At the time of writing the new school applications are closed on the site but you can register your interest for future installations through their Generation Green website.
The Homeco energy for schools programme also offers completely free solar installations for schools. They do a limited number of installations so interested schools should contact them directly to register their interest.
The size of the systems they install are 10kWp which equate to around 60 solar panels and could produce enough electricity to power 2 typical UK households. They estimate that it will save a school about £45,000 on their electricity bill over a 25 year period.
Typically the free and low cost photovoltaic system being offered to schools are relatively small and will only meet a small proportion of the schools electrical energy needs. A small primary school is going to get more of their energy needs met by one of these systems than for example then an academy which has a much larger number of pupils.
Smaller schools could potentially approach some of the companies offering free domestic solar installations. Whilst they do provide free systems designed specifically for homes the way these installations are funded would also mean the same could be done for a small school with similar energy requirements to a typical house.
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In 2010 the UK invested 3.3 billion dollars on clean energy technologies, half of this went on offshore wind farms. Germany invested 41.2 billion the same year, over 12 times as much.
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