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Fairhill Primary School is boosting its energy levels this spring

Wednesday 29 Apr 09

A County Down Eco-School is boosting its energy levels this spring using the sunshine.

Fairhill Primary School has installed solar photovoltaic panels (PV), which will generate clean, environmentally friendly electricity. The 3kWp system, 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 around 2,400 units of electricity each year, a significant saving for the school on their energy bills.

Emma Gribben, NIE Energy, says there is great potential for solar power in Northern Ireland and is delighted local schools are switching on to solar. While visiting the school recently to see the new solar technology, Emma 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 solar panel will substantially reduce the carbon dioxide emitted into the local environment by around 2.5 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."

Mrs Clinghan, Principal, Fairhill Primary School, says "We have been awarded the gold Eco-School certificate for our energy saving efforts throughout the school and we are constantly looking for new ways to protect the local environment. 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."

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.”

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 renewable energy technologies where possible in properties throughout the area. "With the valuable support this year from NIE, 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.