"Free" Solar For Schools: Feed-In Tariff Funds Renewable Education
Image credit: Solar4Schools
The Solar4Schools Initiative has already seen hundreds of UK schools fitted with PV panels producing clean, renewable energy. Now, with the launch of the Government's solar feed-in tariff scheme (FIT) we should see a massive expansion of that program - with companies using the FIT funding to finance installations at little to no cost for the school in question. Solarcentury is teaming up with GE Capital to fund an expansion of its Solar4Schools initiative, with GE funding initial installation of an array (with a small deposit from the school), and then the school using its FIT income to pay-off the loan. The result, say Solarcentury, is electricity savings for the school from day one, and a hedge against future energy price rises. Unlike many similar schemes where the utility continues to own the array, once the installation costs have been paid off (typically in fifteen years), the school will also benefit from the Feed-In Tariff income for the remainder of the scheme.
GE President and CEO Mark Elbourne says it's a no-brainer for schools in a time of budget cuts and belt tightening:
"At GE we are very keen to showcase the breadth and depth of our technological and financial expertise. This unique scheme highlights how the financial services sector can help the UK in its aim to reduce carbon emissions, by enabling change. By linking up with Solarcentury and the Solar4Schools programme, we will be able to help schools throughout the UK recognise the positive impact of green technologies by reducing their carbon footprint, saving money on their energy costs and generating income through their energy consumption."
Of course it's not just about the money. Solar4Schools also provides lesson plans and other educational materials to schools—allowing them to turn this money-saving installation into a practical demonstration of renewable energy at work.