Commercial and public organisations who want to generate their own electricity from solar power can now benefit from a new partnership formed between ethical banking specialist Triodos Bank and Solarcentury, the UK-based solar energy company. Through the affiliation, Triodos Bank will own solar installations, making it easier for more people to take advantage of the sun’s power.

Under the scheme, which is made possible by the country’s feed-in tariff, the solar electric system is managed, installed and maintained for 25 years by Solarcentury and owned by Triodos, through an investment from its EIS green fund. Triodos will therefore benefit from the incentive payments while the occupants receive free solar electricity, which will significantly reduce annual bills. This kind of setup is perfect for schools, which the partnership will primarily focus on, as they require most of their energy during the day, when the panels will be generating.

James Vaccaro, UK Managing Director Triodos Investment Management said, “Triodos is passionate about ethical investment, so we're delighted to be working to fund solar power for UK buildings, and in particular schools. We recognise that previous schemes could be off-putting for those interested in generating their own, clean energy, due to the upfront expense and long payback periods; we're pleased to be working with the UK's experts, Solarcentury, to deliver a solution which makes solar electricity a first-time option for many in the UK.”

Derry Newman, CEO, Solarcentury said, “Solarcentury wants to make solar power accessible. In order to do this, Solarcentury is happy to partner with Triodos; we share a similar mission, wanting to work towards securing a sustainable future. Solar electricity is a very positive investment for schools, as it introduces an income for the school or Local Authority as well as cutting C02 emissions and electricity costs. Schools are also a great place for solar – they are mainly occupied in the day when the system is producing the most power. As local authorities face tighter budgets, this is an opportunity for them to make savings as well as supporting the education of tomorrow's citizens on the importance of renewable energy for a sustainable future.”

The first to benefit from hosting Triodos’ solar power is Hinchley Wood School in Surrey, which has received a system as part of Solarcentury’s Solar4Schools programme. Hinchley Wood's solar system cost them just £2,500, as opposed to a full cost of £186,000. The 67kWp system will generate 58,000kWh of electricity a year; saving the school £ 4,500 in electricity bills as well as cutting 29 tonnes of C02 emissions on an annual basis.

This is the second solar power system for Hinchley Wood School, which has now reached “Green Flag” ambassador status. The school has achieved a 20% reduction in energy use over two years as it generates an additional 20% of its electricity from solar and recycles 75% of its waste.

Steve Poole Head teacher at Hinchley Wood School said, “Hinchley Wood aims to be a sustainable school and renewable energy, using solar panels, is one of the reasons why we achieved Green Flag status. It is the responsible thing to do, saves us considerable money and sets an example the whole school community. School buildings are an ideal location for solar panels and we think every school should consider this option; particularly as it is no longer necessary to finance it yourself with organisations like Solarcentury and Triodos Bank working together. What else was our sports hall roof going to be used for? Hinchley Wood supports solar, and believes schools should have solar power just like ours – using as much roof space as is practicable.”

Triodos, established in The Netherlands in 1980, has pioneered renewable energy finance, initially as a response to the Chernobyldisaster in 1986. Triodos currently finances over 275 innovative climate and energy projects across Europe, with a combined generating capacity of over 1GW.