Two Laois schools asking for votes to win solar panels

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

solar panels Council

Two Laois primary schools are among dozens across Ireland hoping to win a competition for solar panels to cut their energy costs.

The Friends of the Earth competition Solar Schools 2020 will award schools with the best climate action idea that engages with their local community. 

Camross National School and Abbeyleix South School are both in the running. 

Every school had to make a short video, and the ones with the most 'thumbs up' clicked by viewers will win.

Click on this link to watch them and make your vote. 

Schools with the most votes will progress to the next round where a team of independent judges will choose the winning schools.

There are 4 regional areas, and there will be a primary school and secondary school winner in each region. 

1. North Western Region (Cavan, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo, Monaghan Roscommon, Sligo)

2. Leinster Region (Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow)

3. Dublin Region (Dublin City and County)

4. Southern Region (Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford)

The poll closes this Friday February 28.

Winning schools will receive a 90% grant AND all of the support needed to negotiate putting solar on their roof. Each winning school will be required to fundraise for the final 10%.

Friends of the Earth Ireland #ForTheLoveOfSolar campaign also has a petition to ask the Irish Government to make it easier to install solar panels.

"We're working to change Government policy so everyone can go solar. Act now to make sure changing the rules on renewable energy is on the next government's agenda.

Their petition asks the Irish Government in 2020 to remove the very strict planning restrictions for installing solar panels on buildings, and allow microgenerators access a feed-in-tariff so that they can sell any excess power they generate, but do not use.

Sign their petition here

"At least 8, and up to 16 schools will win solar panels for their school in 2020. The final number will depend on the level of grants available by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). 2020 will be the first year schools will be eligible to apply for grants for solar panels from the SEAI under their Communities Grant programme." they say.

"There is a uniquely Irish rule that makes putting solar panels on schools extra challenging. Schools need to apply for planning permission to put up even one solar panel. Everyone agrees this needs to change! Minister Murphy promised in the Climate Action plan to change it this by the end of 2019, but he didn't.  We will wait until this rule is changed before we install any solar panels (to apply for planning permission would add about €3,500 to the cost, and we'd rather spend that money on more solar panels)," the FOE say.