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Solar power means Havant pupils are looking to a bright future

FULL OF ENERGY From left, Jessica Picton, eight, Summer Moxham, eight, Jessica Newman, nine, Josh Cobb, eight, and Kyle Hollis, eight. Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (110032-1)

By Rory McKeown
Published on in the Portsmouth News on Monday 9th January 2012

RIDERS Junior School has joined a select club – it is one of 20 schools across the county to have installed solar panels.

The Havant school pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by installing 74 panels under the Keep Britain Tidy Eco Schools Free Power for Schools Programme.

Staff spotted a small advert in an eco newsletter advertising the scheme and passed the application process.

The programme allows schools to have solar panels installed, maintained and decommissioned at no cost to the school or local authority.

Their hopes were dealt a blow following the government’s announcement to withdraw subsidy funding for solar panel installation nationwide from December 12 last year.

But the solar panels were fitted over the weekend of December 10 and 11 and were finally commissioned before generating electricity just before the end of the autumn term.

Headteacher John Dean said it is a new era for the school.

He said: ‘It’s exciting to be part of this project.

‘We encourage the children to be aware of issues and be eco-friendly, and they have been made aware of the progress that we have made.

‘It’s sad the government pulled the plug on the project but we were lucky to get in in time.’

The school boasts an eco-council and pupils have led a push to turn off lights and projectors when not in use, leading to the school’s electricity consumption falling by 10 per cent.

Mr Dean added: ‘It’s good to be part of the eco movement and it’s good for the children to be a part of that.

‘Apart from learning, it’s about making them aware of the importance of the environment.’

The panels are in full use and are producing 25 per cent of its electrical requirements.

In a statement issued by Winch Energy, which manages the Free Power for Schools programme, the firm said: ‘A solar panel system has been fitted to Riders Junior School, bringing educational opportunities and renewable energy to the school, to offset against traditional fossil-fuel supplies.’

Andrew Suter, Keep Britain Tidy’s Eco Schools programme manager, said: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity to reap the benefits of solar power, to look at energy supply and reduce energy bills and a carbon footprint at the same time.’

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