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Labour pledges support for solar powered schools

news release

Caroline Flint, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has said today (Monday 22 September) that the Labour Party would make it easier for schools to install solar panels, by removing restrictions on access to finance.

Many schools struggle to meet the upfront cost of solar panels, but currently they are not allowed to borrow money to afford them. They can only take out council loans if the local authority already has a solar schools scheme in place.

Friends of the Earth’s Run on Sun campaign wants the Government to relax the rules to ensure every school that wants to, can install solar panels. Solar power saves schools thousands of pounds every year, while helping to tackle climate change.

Having her photograph taken with Friends of the Earth giant suns outside the Labour Party conference in Manchester today, Caroline Flint MP said:

“Solar power offers a huge opportunity for schools to cut bills and provide clean energy in the heart of our communities. As a first step Labour would allow schools to access finance to invest in money saving solar systems, so that every school that wants to, can run on sun.”

Recent Friends of the Earth research shows that schools could each save up to £8,000 per year by installing 50kW solar panels. If every school in the UK had solar power it would produce enough electricity to power 380,000 homes, and save schools up to £240 million a year, while at the same time preventing the release of more than 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Friends of the Earth Renewable Energy Campaigner Alasdair Cameron said:

“Solar power is a win-win. It saves schools thousands of pounds and helps to fight climate change. Labour is right to support changing the rules to help schools run on sun. The Government should follow suit and live up to its promise to make it easier for schools to go solar.”

Earlier in the year senior Conservative figures promised support for solar power on schools when Minsters for Education and Energy – Michael Gove and Greg Barker – posed for photographs on a solar roof in London. It marked the launch of the government’s Solar Strategy, which placed solar powered schools at its heart. But as yet, the Government has failed to deliver any measures that would help schools to go solar.


Notes to editor:

1)  Photo caption: Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint poses with Friends of the Earth giant suns as she commits Labour to supporting solar powered schools. Please credit Friends of the Earth.

2)  Friends of the Earth wants schools to be able to borrow money for solar panels as they already can for energy efficiency measures. For more information on Friends of the Earth’s Run on Sun campaign visit To find out about Friends of the Earth’s competition for schools to win solar panels visit:, and to nominate a school to take part visit:

3)  Savings of £8,000 a year are based on a 50kW system generating 42,500 kWh a year. Including the cost of buying the system the panels should pay back the initial investment in about 6-8 years.

4)  Covering just 15% of suitable roof spaces with solar panels would generate as much electricity as six nuclear power stations the size of Sizewell B.

For press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.

Published by Friends of the Earth Trust

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