NESTA is an innovation charity in the UK that supports projects that better society. Research conducted by the organization found that a solar power schools project encouraged greater interest in community engagement. Specifically, 35% of donors that gave money to support adding more solar power to schools said it was more likely that they would become involved with other projects in the community, and that they had more a more positive regard for solar power, “strong evidence that the Solar Schools project made some people think more positively about renewable energy”, adding that “fundraising and donating engendered a great sense of ownership of the panels”. A survey of 238 online donors was conducted to reach the encouraging insights.
10:10’s Solar Schools project aims to cut UK school emissions by 10% in one year. The 10:10 campaign extends beyond itself – it wants to contribute to a national reduction in carbon emissions, “One key way that organisations can spread the word is by encouraging their staff to sign up as 10:10 individuals. Helping them hit the target – by, for example, implementing a cycle-to-work scheme, having a weekly meat-free day in the canteen, or supporting lift-sharing or car-pooling – will reduce emissions directly as well as increasing staff engagement with your organisation’s emissions cuts.”
“Solar panels are an incredible investment and a great way to teach pupils about energy and climate change. But with budgets squeezed, many schools struggle to afford the up-front investment. Solar Schools is a chance for pupils, parents, local businesses, former students and local residents to do something good for their school and their community” said Maddy Carroll, the Solar Schools campaign manager.
At least 50 schools have been worked with so far and over 400,000 pounds has been raised.
Of course, adding solar power to schools makes sense environmentally and to reduce energy bills, but it also is a good real-world teaching aid for children about the benefits of renewable energy. It would fascinating to survey the children as well to see if their perceptions or beliefs about energy and consumption have been altered by the increased presence of solar power in their schools. Solar investment, one could argue, is not only about getting the technology on rooftops. It is also about bringing communities together to focus on sustainability, climate change and reducing harmful air pollution from fossil fuels.