Friday, October 10, 2014

The UK's Solar Schools Crowdfunding Initiative

An innovative community based approach to funding solar panels on school roofs is producing results in the UK. The Solar Schools initiative reduces energy demand and saves utility costs while fostering community involvement through renewable energy. This program is run by 10:10, a charity that brings people together to help tackle climate change.

This program helps to overcome the cost barriers that make it difficult for schools to fund renewable energy projects on their own. The initiative works by having schools set a fundraising target for a solar roof, then others get involved by contributing to the project.

The drive aims to help schools raise between £8,000 and £15,000 through crowdfunding to install around 30 solar panels. 10:10 estimates that a system this size could save schools over £400 a year in energy bills, avoid over 87,500 kilograms of carbon emissions over 25 years and bring in over £21,000 in feed-in tariff payments.

The project has already succeeded in putting clean energy in more than 50 schools in the UK. These schools have raised more than £400,000 and 10:10 expects to reach the half million mark before the end of the 2014 school year.

The initiative provides schools with the tools, training and support they need to crowdfund the cost of panels. Schools retain all of the financial benefits and the fundraising provides students with an opportunity to build networks and develop new skills. Solar schools draw support from pupils, parents, local businesses, former students and others to build a stronger community. Perhaps most importantly the project provides a sense of community ownership over a clean energy project.

"Bringing a community together to raise the cost of solar panels for their school is a powerful way of cutting carbon emissions, supporting school budgets, changing attitudes to renewable energy and teaching communities new skills," said Amy Cameron, Solar Schools campaign manager at 10:10.

The business community can help by encourage their organization to sponsor a whole virtual panel (or more) for a school of their choice. They can also sponsor a fundraiser or donate of £100 or more, to personalize the virtual solar panel with your own message of support and a link to your businesses' website. Click here for more information.

The Solar Schools initiative provides a number of benefits. In addition to putting solar panels on schools, the project fosters greater interest in community projects. According to the results of a NESTA study presented in Business Green, "35 per cent of people who donated to Solar Schools said they would be more likely to get involved with other community projects."

The survey of of 238 online donors to Solar Schools found "strong evidence that the Solar Schools project made some people think more positively about renewable energy", adding that "fundraising and donating engendered a great sense of ownership of the panels".

Solar holds a great deal of promise for UK schools. According to government data, a rollout of solar technology in conjunction with improved energy efficiency could save UK schools £500m a year on their energy bills.

Make sure to see the article titled, "Comprehensive Green School Information and Resources." It contains links to over 200 articles covering everything you need to know about sustainable academics, student's eco-initiatives, green school buildings, and college rankings as well as a wide range of related information and resources.

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