Solar panels save cash while boosting studies

Stephen Tossou, 10, and Katie O'Sullivan, 9, from Rawmarsh Sandhill Primary School, take a reading from the school's solar energy monitor
Stephen Tossou, 10, and Katie O'Sullivan, 9, from Rawmarsh Sandhill Primary School, take a reading from the school's solar energy monitor
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Seven schools in Yorkshire have begun producing their own green electricity thanks to a £1 million programme to fit solar panels to their roofs.

Tankersley-based Nationwide Solar has fitted almost a thousand panels to schools in the Rotherham area, free of charge, in what is thought to be the biggest project of its kind in the country.

In addition to getting the panels for free, the schools will get a share in the income from the electricity they generate.

Schools are also using monitors, which show how much power the panels are producing and how much carbon they are saving, as teaching aids.

Rawmarsh Sandhill Primary School was one of the first to benefit from the scheme.

Richard Chapman, headteacher of the 160-pupil school, said: “The panels are proving a big success. The children really love them.

“We have a display in the hall which shows how much electricity is being generated and the pupils are collecting the data and analysing it as part of their maths lessons.”

The school is also using the panels to teach pupils about the environment.

“We tell them that every bit of solar energy we use means that we don’t have to pull that energy from the grid. That means we are saving carbon dioxide emissions and helping to save the climate,” said Mr Chapman.

“Of course it also means that we are not just saving money for the school, but earning it, too.”

Nationwide Solar has paid half of the installation costs and the rest of the money has come from European grants.

Director Russ Cowan said: “Solar panels are ideal for schools. They generate electricity during the daytime when schools are at their busiest.

“It means they will be saving money from their energy bills by using the power the panels produce. They’ll also be getting an income from the electricity, but most important of all, the children will be getting a direct lesson in how effective renewable energy can be.”