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Eco pupils at Moneynick go solar

Thursday 25 Jun 09

Alongside planting trees, collecting rain water and making compost bins the school has installed a photovoltaic (PV) system on the south facing roof of the school which will create clean, environmentally friendly electricity from sunlight.  
 
The 3kWp PV system was installed as part of the Switched on Schools programme and is funded by Northern Ireland Electricity’s SMART programme, the North Eastern Education and Library Board and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (DARD) Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity (PBSP).  
 
The Switched on Schools programme not only installs renewable technology in rural schools, but its website www.switchedonschools.co.uk provides learning tools for pupils. Students can access live web-based data which allows them to monitor how much energy is being produced and how much carbon dioxide has been saved on a day to day basis. In the past month, the solar panels at Moneynick Primary School have generated an average of 14.5 kWh per day - that’s more energy than what’s required to power an average Northern Ireland household!  
 
Mrs Emer Hughes, Principal at Moneynick says “The children’s awareness regarding solar panels, electricity and C02 reduction has been heightened through this project. Children now automatically switch off lights, recycle and reuse without having to be encouraged. We are now equipping the children with essential life skills for their future and the future of the planet.”  
 
Emma Gribben from NIE Energy visited the school this week to see the PV system. On her visit she commented that solar was an excellent energy source for schools, households and businesses in Northern Ireland; “Solar power has great potential in Northern Ireland as PV can generate energy even on a cloudy day, as long as it is bright. It is encouraging to see schools leading the way to establishing a sustainable future for Northern Ireland. This 3kWp system will reduce the carbon dioxide emitted by around 1.5 tonnes, a significant reduction in carbon emissions for the local community.”  
 
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.”  
 
Pauline Allen, from the North Eastern Education and Library Board visited the school and says that the Board is committed to reducing C02 emissions and has been introducing renewable energy technologies where possible in schools and colleges throughout the area. "With the valuable support this year from NIE and other funding bodies, we have installed solar panels at several schools in the North Eastern 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."  
 
 
For more energy saving advice and information about renewable energy solutions log on to www.nie-yourenergy.co.uk.