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Kilkenny schools set to lead the solar revolution

93% of Kilkenny's schools have submitted expressions of interest for the government's free 'Solar for Schools' scheme which will provide schools across the country with 6 kilowatts of roof-mounted solar PV panels.

I'm really delighted to see the huge level of interest shown by Kilkenny schools in the Solar for Schools programme. Of the 90 schools in Kilkenny that were invited to apply, Department of Education figures released to me show 84 have already expressed an interest in availing of the scheme, which is providing free solar panels for schools around the country.

In December of last year, I wrote to every school in Kilkenny to let them know the Solar for Schools programme had launched and to encourage them to apply, so I’m absolutely thrilled with this response rate from our local schools. Each school will get 6 kilowatts of roof-mounted solar PV panels for free from the government, which equates to around 16 solar panels, and installations are due to be underway by the summer. These schools will now save money on their electricity bills while doing their bit for the climate, and the other huge opportunity in the scheme is of course educational.

As well as saving on energy costs and reducing emissions, schools will be able to use their solar installations to teach students about the role of renewable energy in helping Ireland reach our climate goals. They’ll have a practical, real-world demonstration in their school, and it might inspire them to bring home what they’re learning to their parents.

With grants of up to €2,100 available for the purchase of solar panels for home, I expect the scheme to generate a lot of discussion about the benefits and savings of solar energy, and increase the uptake among the wider community.

Last year, the Greens removed VAT from solar panels which is now saving people an additional €1,000 on their installations. Thousands of homes across Ireland are getting solar panels installed every month and with the payback period being as low as six years now, there are massive savings to be had. You can reduce your energy bills, protect yourself from global energy price spikes we’ve seen in recent years, and make some money by selling excess electricity back to the grid, all while doing your bit for climate action. It’s a win-win for schools and for householders. Ireland is on the cusp of a solar revolution and I'm proud that our Kilkenny schools will be leading the way!


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