British Gas has unveiled an unprecedented GBP15 million investment in solar technology for the nation’s schools. The company will donate and install solar panels – worth between GBP20,000 and GBP40,000 per school – in up to 750 schools. Each school will be able to generate its own free, green electricity, cutting as much as 20% off its annual electricity bill.
The energy produced by the panels is anticipated to create around GBP1.3m per year for the next 25 years. This will be reinvested in installing solar panels on yet more schools. This means that, in the next five years alone, British Gas could install free solar panels on a total of 1,100 schools.
The panels will also help the selected schools to meet their carbon reduction targets, reducing emissions by up to 1,400 tonnes per year, equivalent to taking almost 400 cars off the road.
The schools receiving solar panels will receive a British Gas smart meter, offering real time information so pupils can see the difference their solar panels are making. Specially created Generation Green lesson plans will help teachers engage their pupils in learning about renewable energy, and schools will be able to track their performance against others and share tips and advice via a specially designed website.
All schools in the UK can register for an application form at http://www.generationgreen.co.uk/. British Gas has already earmarked half of the total investment to ensure that schools in low income areas benefit from the initiative, and intends to deliver the technology to these schools in conjunction with the Government’s Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP).
Phil Bentley, Managing Director, British Gas, commented, “This is the biggest investment of its kind in solar technology for our nation’s schools, which will help them cut both their carbon emissions and their electricity bills – as well as learn about renewable energy in a hands-on way. The electricity generated by these schools will help pay for the scheme to be extended to even more schools throughout the country, which is great news for school leaders, parents and pupils who are all looking for ways to save money during these tough economic times.”
Schools Minister Nick Gibb noted, “This is a very generous offer and I’m sure many schools will feel they can benefit from solar panels. Cutting down on energy costs and reducing carbon emissions are absolutely the right thing to do. It’s a valuable lesson for pupils that we can all help to use energy sparingly, and where possible, generate it from sustainable or renewable resources.”
Based on a formula created by the University of Bath’s Centre for Research in Education and the Environment to measure the impact that teachers can have beyond the classroom, up to 1.8 million parents and family members could learn about renewable energy as a result of the initiative.
British Gas, part of the Centrica group of companies, has one of the lowest carbon intensity ratings of any of the major UK energy suppliers in terms of tonnes of CO-squared emitted per megawatt hour of electricity supplied to customers. It was cited as Britain’s greenest energy supplier in a survey by WWF (UK Power Giants: Generating Climate Change 2007, 28th Sept 2007). Centrica is one of the biggest investors in renewable power generation, principally offshore wind. Its Lynn and Inner Dowsing development, which was completed last year, is one of the world’s largest offshore wind developments.
Generation Green is British Gas’ nationwide schools programme designed to empower teachers, schools, and their local communities to tackle climate change through greener behaviour. It has already attracted more than 10,000 schools to sign up and get involved since its launch in April 2008. The programme rewards schools for green actions with ‘Green Leaves’ which are collected by schools and redeemed against useful prizes ranging from solar water heating kits and energy efficient light bulbs to green energy trackers. Consumers can participate in Generation Green by donating the leaves they collect to a school of their choice, and they can receive Leaves simply by switching to paperless British Gas billing or completing an energy saver’s report online. More information about Generation Green can be found online at http://www.generationgreen.co.uk/