Schools are being urged to continue to look to solar panels for renewable electricity supplies, despite the fact that October sees many schools facing the lowest government subsidies since they were introduced in the UK in 2011.
The call was made by social impact entrepreneur Robert Schrimpff, who has nearly 10 years’ experience in the solar and renewable finance sector.
Robert Schrimpff is a director of Solar for Schools, which encourages schools to go solar. He said, “There are continuing opportunities for schools to benefit educationally and financially from having solar panels fitted. Working closely with schools we can attract low-cost funding for the solar panels and thus enable significant long-term benefits to the schools.”
“Schools that join us benefit from savings in the medium to long term by locking their electricity prices to RPI and by sharing in the profits generated from having solar panels - whether they have the capital or not.”
The additional profit share comes as a result of holding the solar assets in Community Benefit Societies set up for Solar on Schools, They enable investors and schools to come together in such a way that profits are shared with the schools, whilst protecting investors and schools from risk.
Ann Flaherty, business and projects manager at Solar for Schools, who has helped nearly 200 schools go solar in the last 5 years, said, “There are still some great opportunities for schools to have solar panels even if they don’t have the capital to invest in them.”
“Schools will not see the immediate short-term savings available in the recent past, but the long term savings and profit share combined with the teaching resource and the carbon savings make it a great project for any school,” she said.
“For every 10,000 pounds we raise for a school’s solar panels, the school could save or earn £20,000-£40,000 in the first 25 years, and benefit from very low-cost electricity for a further 5-10 years after that,” said Mr Schrimpff. Through the use of the internet, Solar for Schools has cut margins and found investors that will help schools without capital, so everyone can benefit in the long term.
According to Miss Flaherty it’s a fabulous legacy project for students and management to be involved with. She said, “Pressures will grow on our communities and students to ensure their schools embrace a lower carbon future. There will come a time when it will be essential for all schools to have solar panels so they can be seen by their communities as places that care for the future of their children’s futures.”
Solar for Schools predict a subsidy-free solar industry in the UK is not far away.