Time for a solar panel rooftop revolution – Ó Ríordáin

04 November 2017

As the Citizens’ Assembly discuss how the State can respond to climate change, Labour Party Education spokesperson, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has said that the public sector can set the lead on reducing our emissions, and installing solar panels on our schools is a good place to start.

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.

“The Labour Party supports 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.

“This initiative will ultimately save schools and parents money in the long run as one third of costs of running a school are energy costs which has knock on effect to voluntary contributions.

“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, I think the public sector can set the lead, and I think a good place to start in Ireland is with the installation of solar panels on the roof of the local school.”

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