What is it?
A community benefits society established in 2015 with the goal of making it as easy as possible for schools to generate on-site solar power.
What does the scheme involve?
Schools are not required to pay any upfront costs in order to take part. Solar for Schools manages the process of working with installers, liaises with councils and raises the necessary finance, as part of an arrangement which sees the organisation secure ownership of the solar assets and sell electricity back to participating schools, sharing profits in the event that supplies can be exported back to the National Grid.
To join the scheme, schools are first required to offer the use of their roofs. Prior to installation, Solar for Schools and the participating school will negotiate a price that both parties are happy with, which will typically be lower in comparison to the school’s existing electricity supplier. This supply agreement will cover a period of 25 years and be tied only to inflation, without any annual price rises.
Should the system require repairs or need to be taken down, Solar for Schools will cover the necessary costs over the course of the contract period.
Who does the organisation work with?
The schools best placed to participate are those with high levels of electricity consumption located in areas of the country with strong sunlight. High consumption users may be able to benefit from a more extensive system, on the basis that Solar for Schools will be selling more electricity and covering its costs sooner, thus facilitating a lower unit price.
Can the scheme be complicated by schools’ roof design?
A school’s roof ultimately needs to be structurally sound in order for it to be admitted to the scheme. Once a school has registered its interest, Solar for Schools will carry out an initial site visit before proceeding any further.
Is there an educational component?
The company also provides sustainability education, which begins with involving pupils in mapping out the roof where panels will be installed, and helping them understand the role solar panels can play in transitioning towards using renewable energy.
In their own words:
Shannon Jackson, Bonds and Projects Manager: “Every school is different. We have to navigate many different issues, queries and concerns, and build trust. Issues can and do arise, but we work through them together – it’s a partnership between ourselves and the schools.”