St Michael's Catholic High School, in High Elms Lane, Watford has fended off 1,000 other schools in the UK to win the nationwide solar power competition sponsored by British Gas.

The school will now receive solar panels and associated equipment, such as a smart energy meter, which will help students learn about renewable energy generation. The energy generated by the solar panels will be used to offset the school's electricity costs.

St Michael’s also runs its own environmental council, which has helped the school improve its green credentials by placing recycling bins in each classroom. The school also grows some of its own food, which is sold in the canteen; the plastic cutlery previously used has also been replaced with steel implements.

Katherine Crellin, Head of Geography at the school said, “It's absolutely fantastic. To have won the national competition, it makes us a beacon school for the local and national community.

“Because we have got the environmental council, it's getting students' voices heard. It's a thriving department.”

Head Teacher Edward Conway said, “From our point of view, it goes with our mission statement and our whole ethos as stewards of creation, preserving earth's resources and that commitment has come through in a variety of ways and this is a future extension.

“We want to make the school as environmentally friendly as possible and we're looking to continue to make the school and the wider community much more environmentally friendly.”

British Gas launched its solar for schools scheme back in July 2010, announcing that it will be investing £15 million to supply 1,100 primary and secondary schools with free solar systems worth between £20,000 and £40,000 pounds per school over the next five years.

The scheme has caused an amount of controversy since its launch, as British Gas will benefit from the feed-in tariff payments, which are significantly higher than the electricity bill reductions that the school will see.