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Education: Going solar

07 February 2014

A C of E village school proves that even small can go solar, and reap the rewards, says Margaret Holness

Small but bountiful: an outside view of Pendock Primary, showing the solar panels that are saving, and earning, the school money

Small but bountiful: an outside view of Pendock Primary, showing the solar panels that are saving, and earning, the school money

PENDOCK Primary, a tiny Church of England village school in Worcestershire, with just 43 pupils, has become what is believed to be the one of the smallest energy- suppliers to the National Grid. Since solar panels were installed on its roof, in May 2013, it has earned more than £400 from its feed to the grid, and saved £500 on its energy bills.

The move to solar energy was mooted by Mechteld Blake, who chairs the parent teacher association. Ms Blake, an environmental research scientist, heard about the Solar Schools Campaign run by 10:10, a carbon reduction organisation, and suggested that Pendock should join. "Only two members of the PTA were sceptical, but they soon came on board, and within a very short time the whole village was involved," she says.

Local supporters "bought" solar roof "tiles" at £5 a piece, and with events ranging from a pumpkin sale to a village party with a live band, £6000 of the £9000 needed for the solar panels was raised in just two terms. Then the small supplier, Good Energy, stepped in with a £3000 donation, so the panels could be installed in time for summer.

Pendock's head teacher, Sally Lyndon Chance, says that teaching about environmental issues increased during the campaign. "Our children are fascinated by the whole solar-energy project, and they're very proud of what's been achieved."

Pendock is one of the first 14 schools in the country to go solar, although 20 more - five C of E schools among them - are actively fund-raising, and hope to join them this year.

Amy Cameron, from 10:10's schools team, says that schools are ideally suited for solar PV because they are stable locations, and most of their energy use takes place during daylight hours. "With a bit of determination, almost any school can go solar," she says.


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