A school in Upper Norwood is being prevented from generating more green energy and supplementing its education budgets with cheap electricity because of changes in Government policy. Data suggests that better use of existing renewable energy technology across all of Croydon’s schools could generate – literally – more than £500,000 per year in savings and income. Similar schemes, if rolled out across every London school, would save £9.8 million per year.
With climate change again in the headlines after the latest devastating floods in Cumbria and the Scottish borders, the Green Party’s London Assembly Member Jenny Jones this morning visited St Joseph’s College, where she met the headteacher Sean Miller and his deputy Kevin Dwyer, to see for herself the money-spinning solar panels on the school’s roof.
The school has been forced to the conclusion that it is no longer financially viable to go ahead with further installations due to the Government’s proposals to cut the solar Feed in Tariff by up to 87 per cent. It is a change of policy which even the Tory Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has publicly opposed.
“The College is very keen to install more panels on the rest of our usable roof space,” Miller said. “Plans were in their final stages of development with start-up funding already agreed with the government body. This has now been abandoned, as the Feed in Tariff has been removed, it will now not be financially viable. This has caused great disappointment to the College community.”
Earlier this year, the London Mayor confirmed his intention to make solar photovoltaics (PV) one of the priorities for London schools in the next phase of his public sector energy retrofit programme; he also criticised the Government’s change of policy.
Figures suggest that of the 146 schools in Croydon, only one of them has fitted solar panels. A typical school is potentially missing out on £3,500 of revenue each year under current solar tariff rates, according to Baroness Jones’s data.
“Every London school should be exploiting their unused empty roof space for generating solar electricity,” Jones said.
“Sadly schools such as St Joseph’s are still the exception and the Government’s recent plans to cut the Feed in Tariff severely will make it even harder for other schools to follow suit.
“How many more record-breaking extreme weather events must it take before the Government wakes up to the dangers of climate change?
“The growth of renewables such as solar have a very important role in tackling climate change, but the Government’s deliberate attempts to stall this sector not only jeopardises London’s long-term economic stability and the health of its residents, but over 2,000 solar jobs in London which are now at serious risk.”
Also visiting St Joseph’s today was Oliver Hayes, an energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Schools like St Joseph’s and communities all over the London want to invest in solar, but the Government seems determined to undermine them at every turn by removing support and blocking investment,” he said.
“It’s great that the London Assembly is adding its voice to the chorus of opposition to the Government’s planned 90 per cent solar cuts. David Cameron must listen and urgently reconsider.
“Renewables like solar have the potential to be a huge success story for London, bringing thousands of high-tech jobs, and giving real power back to communities. But the Government must support, not scupper, this burgeoning industry.”
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