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Tyrone pupils benefit from new solar system

Monday 29 Dec 08

Even in the dark days of winter, pupils at Donaghey Primary School are seeing the light with energy from the sun.

The school has just fitted solar photovoltaic panels (PV) on the roof. These create electricity from sunlight which is being used to power electrical equipment in the school.  
The 3kWp PV system, which was funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) through the Northern Ireland Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity (PBSP), Northern Ireland Electricity's Smart programme and the Southern Education and Library Board, will produce over 2,250 units of electricity each year, a saving of around £300 on the school's energy bills.  
Claire Carson, NIE Energy, says there is great potential for solar power in Northern Ireland and is delighted Donaghey Primary School has switched onto solar. While visiting the school to see the new technology, Claire said, "Renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies have the potential to substantially reduce the amounts of carbon dioxide (C02) emitted, helping to prevent climate change.  
This 3kWp system will reduce the carbon dioxide emitted into the local environment by around 1.5 tonnes. In recent years schools have become enthusiastic adopters of renewable energy, demonstrating a range of sustainable energy solutions such as solar, wind, biomass and geothermal. We look forward to continuing our work with the Education Boards to promote renewable energy alternatives in schools throughout Northern Ireland."  
Vince McKevitt, head of DARD’s PBSP programme said: “This is a truly innovative project which places renewable energy at the heart of rural schools. It is important for children to be aware of the need to save electricity and the damaging effect energy consumption has on the environment. Having renewable energy in schools is a brilliant way to show young people what can be done to help the environment. School children will see the actual workings of renewable energy whilst learning about the bigger issues such as climate change. Everyone has a role to play in saving energy and even little changes made by children can make a big difference to global issues. Educating children to be aware of environmental issues will not only benefit the rural community, but also the world around them.”  
School Principal, Kathleen Forster, says this is an ideal opportunity not only to save on energy costs but also to educate the pupils about their ongoing responsibilities to the environment. "At Donaghey Primary School safeguarding the future of our pupils is paramount, and replacing energy generated fossil fuels with solar power makes very good sense. We are always looking for new ways to protect the local environment and the installation of PV at the school is a constant reminder to the pupils, teachers and parents that we can all play a part in protecting our future."  
Robert McCreery, Energy and Environmental Officer for the Southern Education and Library Board says the Board is committed to reducing C02 emissions and has been introducing the renewable energy technologies where possible in properties throughout the area. "With DARD and NIE’s valuable support this year, we have installed solar panels at several schools in the Southern area. The Board is doing something positive for the environment by substituting the burning of fossil fuels with solar power to provide electricity. The schools benefit environmentally through a reduction in C02 emissions and they will also see savings on annual energy costs."  
To find out more about saving energy and renewable energy solutions for your home, school or business check out the NIE Energy website www.nie-yourenergy.co.uk, the EST website www.est.org.uk, or call the Energy Saving Trust on freephone 0800 512 012.