Environmental campaign group, Friends of the Earth (FoE), has started a petition calling for UK schools to have better financial access to solar energy.

The petition is aimed at the Department for Education (DfE) and secretary of state for education, Michael Gove, asks for a change to current financial restrictions on schools that could be inhibiting their adoption of solar energy.

The petition claims that “government rules stop schools accessing some of the best solar schemes”.

FoE said in a statement: “The government says it likes the idea of putting solar on schools. Well it’s about time it took action. And the first thing it should do is let schools access finance to invest in solar power, allowing them to save money and produce their own clean energy.”

Talking to Solar Power Portal, Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Anna Watson said: “Schools tell us they like solar power but many can’t afford the upfront costs – the government should use its forthcoming Solar Strategy to enable schools to borrow money.”

Watson also explained schools are currently not allowed to take out loans. FoE are campaigning for an exemption of such restrictions, for schools looking to install solar. “Removing red tape and allowing schools to borrow would provide another funding option for schools who are not in a position to crowd-source or create co-ops,” said Watson.

“It could be easier for schools to access low interest loans and open up the solar market,” said Watson. “In schools people can see solar, engage parents and children in what our energy future should look like,” she added.

On the highly anticipated government Solar Strategy, which is rumoured to be announced this week, the FoE statement said: “Installing solar on every roof in Britain would generate more electricity than the country requires. And it could save our cash-strapped schools millions of pounds.”

FoE is hoping for a clear target to “push the installation of solar on all public buildings, particularly schools. They are places of education and about investment in the future. And, they have big roofs…Every school that wants solar, should have it”.

“But we needn’t stop there – it would be great to see clean energy right across all of our towns and neighbourhoods,” added Watson.

Amy Cameron, Solar Schools campaign manager for climate campaign group 10:10, praised the FoE initiative, also said continuing the renewables trend on public buildings is important.

A spokesman from the DfE told Solar Power Portal that “schools are free to explore the best funding option to suit their needs. There are numerous schools all over the country that have already implemented solar schemes”.

“If a school wants to implement a solar scheme, we encourage them to do so. It is our ambition to see solar power rolled out more widely across public buildings, including schools,” the spokesman said.

10:10's Cameron also told Solar Power Portal: “It's always very difficult to define the influence of one bit of policy on a whole sector, but anything that encourages government to do more to help facilitate greater uptake of solar can only be a good thing.”

“We believe schools, and in fact the majority of public buildings, are great candidates for renewables – not only because they often have large roof space and tight budgets – but because installations that involve communities have a huge role to play in making renewables part of everyday life,” Cameron added.

Last week alternative energy firm Winch Energy's, ‘Power Your Future’ programme secured funds for 3MW of PV installations under its schools solar initiative, ‘Power Your Schools’. Set to continue throughout 2014, the funding came from the subsidiary of global clean energy company CBD Energy Limited, Secured Energy Bonds (SEB).

This financial system means schools receive solar energy at no cost, the installations, insurance and maintenance of the array is taken care of by investors, so schools receive energy at a discounted rate. Over 100 schools have already benefitted from the scheme.