Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Friday, 25 July 2008 16:04 UK

Solar power call for more schools

Solar power in Bury
Solar power can be monitored at Our Lady of Lourdes primary school in Bury

Solar panels being installed in a secondary school in East Sussex will generate enough power for 33,000 hours of classroom computer use.

This is the hundredth school in a public and private sector partnership to introduce solar energy into schools.

Peacehaven Community School is having solar panels fitted through the government's Low Carbon Building Programme and the Co-operative group.

The solar panels are estimated to save the school 550 per year in bills.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said the school "will now benefit from a reduction in fuel bills, the profits from any excess electricity generated and the knowledge it is helping in the fight against climate change".

Climate change

Mr Wicks said it would help children "to witness at first hand the connection between energy and climate change and so have a real educational impact".

The Co-operative group, which has spent 1m on the scheme, is calling on other businesses to fund such solar projects so that every school in the country could receive some of its power from renewable sources.

It estimates that each school solar panel system will generate enough power to run 18 computers for a year.

In terms of the environment, it says that if every school in the country participated it would save 48,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to 145 million car miles.

Patrick Allen of the Co-operative group says "the technology is improving all the time which means that renewables erected at the start of a child's school life will have paid for themselves by the time they leave at 18".

"The technology will demonstrate the importance of renewable resourcing to our students, both in a scientific and ecological way. This will help tremendously in our efforts to become a more sustainable educational environment," said head teacher, Helen Cryer.

Schools are being told by the government to become "models of energy efficiency", in a drive to have greener schools.

Under the government's Children's Plan, there is a target for all new school buildings in England to be carbon neutral by 2016.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls has announced 200 projects, costing 110m over three years, to promote energy saving and eco-friendly designs.

However Ofsted inspectors found only limited practical engagement with these ambitions in a report Schools and Sustainability, A Climate for Change.

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