Households, businesses and the public sector continue to feel the pinch when it comes to managing their budgets. Schools in particular are struggling. While the absolute amount of spending for schools in England is now at record levels, the Institute for Fiscal Studies believes that schools will have to cut budgets by approximately 8% by 2020, due to the rising number of pupils, inflation and increased running costs.
To combat these fiscal pressures, a growing number of schools are looking for new and innovative ways to manage costs, and the cost of electricity is often at the top of the list.
The good news is that renewables are more accessible now than ever before; but many schools are still not convinced. Here are three reasons why your school might want to consider solar PV.
Reason 1: It’s not as difficult (or expensive) as you might think.
Many schools might look at the initial outlay required to install solar PV and dismiss it as a financially unviable option; especially given the government’s much talked about decision to slash subsidies for solar PV.
But schools should not be so quick to dismiss solar as a viable energy source. First, the cost of solar panels has fallen dramatically over the past five years. In financial terms, this means the monetary returns are excellent, despite the lower subsidies. What’s more, because schools are occupied during the daytime when solar output is greatest, schools benefit by using the power that they have generated and reducing the electricity they have to buy from the grid.
There are a growing number of organisations and charities that are helping schools make the switch to green energy sources. These organisations can help with everything from grants and installations to advice and even crowdfunding.
And when used in conjunction with the government’s Feed-In-Tariffs and other schemes, solar PV not only becomes affordable, but potentially lucrative.
Reason 2: The collective savings could finance better education.
Sometimes we fail to look at the bigger picture. 50kW solar panels installed on schoolgrounds could generate around £8,000 per year through energy independence and the various energy buy back and grid balancing schemes. While that might not seem like a game-changing amount of money, multiply it by the 30,000 schools in the UK and that’s an additional £240m that didn’t exist before. That is more than the government pledged back in March to rebuild and refurbish many of the schools in England. It’s the equivalent of paying 6,000 teachers a salary of £40,000 for a year.
Only by looking at the bigger picture can we begin to understand the net impact that green energy could have on the education sector.
Reason 3: Become a leader in sustainable education
Unless you’re of President Trump’s persuasion, you will be all too familiar with the environmental crisis the world faces due to its reliance on fossil fuels. Future generations will need to live in a carbon neutral world if they are to stand any chance of righting the wrongs of the generations before them.
This lofty ambition will require a complete remapping of social norms and behaviours; and there is no better place to do this than in schools. Solar PV installations are more than just an energy source for schools – they are a hugely powerful and exciting learning tool.
Educators can seize the opportunity, by building green energy into their education programme and using the data generated from their solar PV installation to inform their curriculum.
In many ways, the education element supersedes all the fiscal factors. Helping pupils to understand and appreciate the role that they can play in building a sustainable future is of immeasurable value. By planting the seeds now, who knows what the brilliant minds of tomorrow might be able to achieve.
For more information read our Buyers guide to solar
Have a look at some of our school case studies:-