Clean Power

Published on May 6th, 2014 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg


Solar Schools Create Educational Opportunities In UK & Cut Costs

May 6th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Sustainablog.

the power your future program creates solar schools

One of the beauties of solar power: it really doesn’t require a lot of sun to create power. So, sure, places like Arizona and Abu Dhabi can creates massive amounts of electricity with the sun… but the UK – not known for its sunny days – can also power homes and businesses with solar panels. The Power Your Future program is taking advantage of what sunlight there is in Great Britain to create “solar schools,” and has already installed 100 solar arrays that will create cost savings and educational opportunities for these institutions.

Isn’t that expensive? Well, yes… and not every school will be able to pay for a solar power system up front. So, the program has partnered with Australia-based CBD Energy to fund new arrays at 22 schools across the UK. The company created bond offerings to raise money for the program, and brought in over £7.5 million (or $12.65 million American). With that money, they’ll be able to generate 3,300,000 MWh of electricity, and prevent emissions of over 1,720 tons of CO2 every year.

Now this doesn’t come completely free to the schools: they still have to pay for the power generated by the solar arrays (a PPA system). But they’ll pay rates that are so heavily discounted that all of the schools will save over £100,000 in the first year alone. Over the 20 year contract of the program, total savings will top £2.3 million. On top of the money saved, these 22 schools will also have a new educational resource available to them: CBD chairman and managing director Gerry McGowan notes

…each school participating in the Power Your Future Programme will also be provided with educational materials and access to the systems’ “smart meter,” allowing them to track the output and carbon savings produced by their solar installation, and encouraging a lasting change in the attitudes of the next generation towards renewable energy. Altering the way our society both thinks about, and relates to, the environment is very important to us.

A sweet arrangement for schools and students – I’m sure there are science teachers just salivating at the possibilities here.

While there’s a lot of private money wrapped up in this program, it’s also supported by the British government: public and private sectors can work together fruitfully! Know of similar programs in your neck of the woods? Share the details with us…

Image credit: Power Your Future

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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at

  • Is there any transparency on these projects? SEB raised $7.5 million for solar projects. What are these projects? How much money was spent on them? How much power are they producing? Where is the reporting?

  • JamesWimberley

    This is a crony capitalism programme. Instead of installing the panels itself (borrowing cost 3.44% for 30 years) the British government is creating a risk-free profit opportunity for its City friends, at the taxpayers’ expense. So only one cheer.

    • Offgridmanpolktn

      But it is a way of making it (going solar) happen now. The schools get their power at a lower cost while providing a good example for the next generation and reduce the future demand for fossil fuel or nuclear energy. So the people financing this venture get a return on their money, would it be any better waiting for government to get around to doing this with the increased costs of their oversight and the profits to go to the financial institutions?

      • Matt

        We could say all solar lease or PPA agreement provide less local ownership/benefit than direct local purchase. But isn’t better that the school have the panels and save money today, than wait for “maybe never” to get the panels.

      • Ronald Brakels

        It may be better than doing nothing. I say may because of the damage this sort of incompetence can do to a country. When this sort of wastefulness is not stomped on it can lead to ridiculous things like a 16 cent a kilowatt-hour guaranteed price for electricity from a nuclear reactor that may not come online for a decade. A government’s main purpose is to provide public goods and it has a responsibility to provide them in a cost effective manner. Having public goods provided in a way that is clearly not cost effective and then being told that I’m lucky to be getting public goods at all does not impress me in the slightest.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Yep, it’s insane. Wasting money in the name of austerity. Bending over backwards to get things done without spending any money and ending up paying twice as much.

      • A Real Libertarian

        An irrational aversion to government debt is one of the most fatal aliments of an economy.

        Same thing with all this means-testing to ensure no money is misused, all it’s doing is tying everything up and causing programs to fail.

        But hey! At least it’s a efficient failure, instead of a wasteful success.

        • Ronald Brakels

          I don’t know about means testing in the UK, but if austerity is supposed to be about inflicting harm on the country in order to restore investor confidence, why do they then go and do things that prove they are economic morons and destroy the confidence of investors? For example, guaranteeing a price of a price of 16 cents a kilowatt-hour for nuclear electricity sometime next decade. You’d think if you’d just sold your kids toys and cancelled their school trip to show how careful you are with money, you wouldn’t then immediately head to the pub and blow money buying beers for your friends Carl, Lenny, and Homer Simpson.

          • A Real Libertarian

            Penny-wise and Pound-foolish.

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