The Solar Schools project, launched by carbon cutting organisation 10:10 in conjunction with Mumsnet, is set to help 100 schools receive solar panels. The innovative scheme harnesses the latest in online fund-raising techniques to galvanise local support, allowing schools to invest in carbon and cost cutting solar panels.

Solar Schools was set up to provide interested schools a platform to crowd-source the necessary funds to install solar panels. It works by setting up each school with a ‘virtual solar roof’ populated with blank solar panels. Parents, businesses and alumni are then invited to sponsor sections of the roof to raise the necessary cash.  

The scheme was launched in the beginning of 2011. Under the pilot scheme five different schools successfully raised over £70,000 to secure solar arrays. One of the pilot schools, EP Collier Primary School in Reading, raised over £11,070 in just nine weeks. School Bursar Mary Shorland, who led the fundraising drive, said: “Solar Schools has unlocked the potential within our school community and identified that for many local businesses they were just waiting to be asked for help. This increased engagement has the potential to have a long-term benefit for our school.”

Following the successful pilot, the scheme has now opened up applications for its nationwide launch in September. 10:10 hopes to help 100 schools ‘go solar’ over the coming year by providing online and offline resources alongside training, staff support and a set of educational resources including advice on fundraising and attracting local press coverage to those schools interested.

“Solar panels are an incredible investment and a great way to teach pupils about energy and climate change. But with budgets squeezed, most schools struggle to afford the up-front investment” said Angela Bryant, 10:10’s Executive Director.

Aside from the clear financial benefits solar panels can bring, the scheme’s crowd funding approach enables schools to forge stronger links with their local community. Schools involved in the pilot cited an increased confidence for fundraising and a step-change in green initiatives after taking part in the ground-breaking initiative.

The nature of the scheme means that those schools successful in reaching their target are able to benefit from the full feed-in tariff income generated by the panels. Therefore the project aims to not only cut carbon but boost school budgets, build fundraising capacity in schools and engage thousands of people with renewable energy.

The fresh approach to fund-raising will provide a welcome alternative to schools looking at investing in solar after the latest round of FiT revisions saw those offering free solar arrays to schools severely affected by a new, lower multi-installation tariff.

Solar School will be accepting applications over the next two weeks. Interested schools can apply here.