Elgin Energy has partnered with Friends of the Earth Ireland as a sponsor for the 2020 nationwide Solar Schools competition.

The competition was officially launched on Thursday 21 November 2019 in EirGrid’s offices with Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor and the new Chair of EirGrid Brendan Tuohy in attendance.

Kate Ruddock, Friends of the Earth with Minister Mary Mitchell O’ Connor, Mark Foley CEO Eirgrid and students from 2019 winning schools

Hands up for Solar Schools’ Competition calls on primary and secondary schools across the country to identify a local green initiative they would like to implement. Entries are made by video submission. These videos are then uploaded to the Friends of the Earth website and an online vote takes place. Winners will then be selected from the shortlist by a judging panel. 2019’s panel consisted of a teacher, an environmental education officer and a climate activist.

The following five schools were 2019 winners:

St. Munchins, Limerick
St Colmans College Mayo
Scoil Naomh Eoin Aran Islands
Upperchurch National School Tipperary
St Colmcille’s Community School, Knocklyon, Dublin

This year’s competition is aiming to award eight schools in 2020. You can view the schools that have signed up for the 2020 competition on this map.

“We are delighted to have Elgin Energy on board as sponsors for this Solar Schools competition, supporting students and schools to take climate action and create a good example for communities.” Kate Ruddock, Deputy Director, Friends of the Earth

The winning schools will get a 4 – 6 kilowatt (kW) rooftop solar installation producing approximately 4 – 6,000kWh of electricity annually. The average annual energy consumption for an Irish household is 4,200kWh therefore an installation sized 4-6kW will make a significant contribution to reducing both electricity costs and the school’s carbon footprint. It is notable however that planning regulations in Ireland for rooftop installations on commercial buildings restrict them to 50m2 or 50% of the total roof area however for schools, planning permission is required for just one solar panel! For domestic homes, the restriction is 50% of the roof area or 15m², whichever is smaller.

“We are delighted to support the Solar Schools competition this year. The competition is a wonderful way to generate practical and local green initiatives and increase understanding and education around solar PV.” Ronan Kilduff, Managing Director, Elgin Energy

The Climate Action Plan published in August of this year, proposed a Feed in Tariff (FiT) for microgeneration to be introduced in 2021. This scheme would provide payment to small scale energy generation such as rooftop installations. Once this scheme is introduced, rooftop installations will begin to receive payment for excess energy produced (i.e. not used on site). This will provide additional revenue streams to the schools or community buildings that have solar installed.

The 2020 competition has partnerships with Eco Unesco and Conradh na Gaeilge to increase awareness amongst schools. Other sponsors are Trust, EirGrid and Patagonia. You can learn more about the competition or enter your school here.

Elgin Energy is also engaged in a UK education initiative as part of our community contribution for Scottish projects. You can learn more here.

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