Falmouth School’s Solar Success

A Cornish school, based near Falmouth, has reached an impressive funding goal enabling solar panels to be fitted in time for the start of the new school year.

Mabe School fitted a 10kw solar panel system over the summer break, ready for the children’s return, after exceeding their initial £10,000 target by over £2000.

As part of the ‘10:10 Solar Schools’ project, a UK-wide initiative to put clean energy on the roofs of classrooms across the country, the solar panels will enable Mabe school to reduce its carbon emissions and cut energy bills.

By raising enough funds to cover the costs, 100% of the income generated from the panels can now be reinvested into additional educational resources for the children.

The school began its funding mission in October 2013, when enthusiastic parents initiated ‘Friends of Mabe’, a group which welcomes involvement from anyone within the parish keen to support the school.

Friends of Mabe successfully involved the whole community in raising the funds to install the panels with local people and businesses quick to contribute: Mabe Stores made one of the initial donations; The New Inn hosted events and took part in a sky dive; WalkItCornwall organised a sponsored walk with funding from local people and businesses within the Falmouth area; Falmouth and Exeter Universities made donations; The volunteer run community newsletter resulted in a breakthrough when John Jones made a generous personal donation in addition to a very substantial donation from his company.

ZLC Energy’s Managing Director, Mark Smith, said: “We’re very proud to have completed another Solar Schools project in Cornwall. The scheme is not only a fantastic way for a community to help their school to free up money for better teaching resources; its also a great way for the children to learn about energy and what we can all do better to power our future. We look forward to working with the children of Mabe School to help them learn all about it!”

Mark continued, “As part of the Solar Schools project, Mabe School will receive over £1400 annually from ‘feed in tariff’ payments for the next 20 years. This, combined with nearly £1000 of energy savings from the solar electricity generated, will free up over £2000 each year for the school to reinvest in equipment for the children.”

Not only has the investment of the solar panels provided a funding stream, it will also help to reduce the school’s electricity bills, whilst providing the children with an educational insight into renewable energy.

Paul Hayes, Head Teacher of Mabe School explains: “I would like to thank everyone for helping us to reach our fundraising goal, which would not have been possible without the help and support from our local community. We have seen a fantastic response from the pupils, who wish to find out more about the solar panels and how they work. We plan to use this investment as a way of educating our children about renewable energy.”

The children have been thoroughly engaged with the project since it began and the school has been keen to highlight to the children the importance of reducing the school’s carbon emissions.

The school already has an active Eco-Council, which has been working with Mabe School Governor Jo Clarkson, to monitor the school’s energy use, and they are excited about the impact of the solar panels.

The success of this project will inspire the pupils to work towards introducing other energy saving measures within the school, for example, fitting energy saving LED lighting.