One of the obstacles to installing a solar electricity system is often the high upfront cost associated with solar panels. But in the UK, GE has changed that thanks to a partnership with Solarcentury.
The goal of the partnership is to make it affordable to install solar electricity in schools throughout the UK through Solarcentury’s Solar4Schools program. Solar4Schools has already installed solar electric systems in more than 250 schools in the UK and hopes to work with hundreds more over the next two years under the partnership.
“By linking up with Solarcentury and the Soalr4Schools program, we will be able to help schools throughout the UK recognize the positive impact of green technologies by reducing their carbon footprint, saving money on their energy costs and generating income through their energy consumption,” Mark Elborne, GE’s National Executive for North Europe, said.
The partnership shows, “how the financial services sector can help the UK in its aim to reduce carbon emissions, by enabling change,” Elborne said.
For schools and local authorities in the UK looking to save money and protect against rising electricity prices, Solar4Schools offers a financial package allowing schools to install solar technology without the high initial capital cost.
While the school would pay a small initial deposit, GE Capital will fund the cost of installing the solar technology. The school will then pay back the equipment cost over 15 years, using income generated from the recently introduced Solar Feed-in Tariff.
The Feed-in Tariff was launched by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change this part April. It pays a premium to those with solar electric systems on all the electricity they generate for a guaranteed 25 years.
Through the Solar4Schools program, schools can generate income from the electricity generated by the solar equipment.
The joining of GE Capital and Solarcentury shows how vital a role the private sector can play in tackling broader societal problems.
“It’s a great example of private sector innovation for community scale benefit,” Derry Newman, CEO of Solarcentury, said.
“Solar electricity is a very positive investment for schools, as it introduces a long term income stream as well as cutting CO2 emissions and bill costs,” Newman said. “As local authorities face budget cuts, this is an opportunity for them to create a long term revenue stream as well as educate children on the importance of renewable energy for a sustainable future.”
And unlike other school solar initiatives, the GE backed plan allows schools to own its solar electricity equipment once the lease is repaid.
Educating students is also a part of the Solar4Schools program. Schools have access to a range of lesson plans focused on teaching the benefits of low carbon energy and the amount of electricity generated and CO2 savings will be shown on display in schools with data available online.