Greens and Boris back schemes for clean energy in schools

London Aseembly Member Jenny Jones, second right, with staff and pupils at St Joseph's College this morning, where solar power is supplementing the education budget

London Assembly Member Jenny Jones, second right, with staff and pupils at St Joseph’s College this morning, where solar power is supplementing the education budget. Photos by Lee Townsend

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.

Baroness Jones talks about climate change with pupils at St Joseph's this morning: generating renewable energy on site has educational benefits, too

Baroness Jones talks about climate change with pupils at St Joseph’s this morning: generating renewable energy on site has educational benefits, too

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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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in 2016 London elections, Boris Johnson, Croydon Friends of the Earth, Croydon Greens, Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood, Education, Environment, Jenny Jones, London Assembly, Mayor of London, Schools, St Joseph's College and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Greens and Boris back schemes for clean energy in schools

  1. newboilerman says:

    There is still some chance that the government will alter their stance on the cliff edge cutting of the generation tariff which was planned for January 2016. I really can’t see how it can be implemented in its current form before next April at the earliest. Amber Rudd at DECC is pretty silent on the matter. We need the report on the FIT consultation to be published before we have any certainty but since the original proposal has some assumptions we now know to be flawed; as an example the EU has extended minimum selling prices on Chinese solar manufacturers to protect German ones until 2017 at the least. So there is little prospect of panel prices falling in 2016 unless the Germans want it.


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