06 April 2017

Labour spokesperson on the Environment Senator Aodhán Ó Riordáin has said we need radical ideas to reduce our carbon emissions and tackle climate change. Labour’s 2017 Alternative Budget proposed a €100 million scheme over four years to install solar panels across our 4,000 schools. It’s the rooftop revolution that can help deliver the reduction in emissions to meet Ireland’s 2030 targets.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

If we want to reduce our emissions, and tackle climate change it means implementing radical ideas. One such proposal is to install solar panels on the roofs of schools right across Ireland.

“We support diversification of the renewable electricity portfolio, and community owned energy projects have the potential to transform our energy system. Schools are at the heart of our communities and provide the perfect location to launch such a project and inspire climate action in every parish and village.

“With 4,000 schools across Ireland, installing solar panels on each could provide half of the energy our schools need, while helping our children to understand the benefits of switching to clean sources of energy.

“According to preliminary figures I received from the Department of Education, it would cost a total of nearly €100 million in capital spending, and we would propose to spread the roll out over 4 years. It would help our schools move towards energy independence, generating their own power and heat, while reducing their operating costs.

“There’s a good deal of work to be done to develop this model of community ownership of energy projects, including the removal of the bar that prevents communities from profiting from the sale of excess energy to the national grid.

“While waiting for such changes to be made, we think the public sector can set the lead, and we think a good place to start in Ireland is with the installation of solar panels on the roof of the local school.

“We in Labour want to see citizens and communities at the heart of energy policy, promoting and enabling deep public engagement on the challenges – and the opportunities – that arise from our climate commitments.

“I look forward to debating these ideas further at our national conference in Wexford later this month.”

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