Oaklands School solar scheme brings power to the people

Edinburgh Solar Co-operative board member Johanna Carrie, chair Richard Dixon, city environment convener Councillor Lesley Hinds  and Chris Clark from solar panels supplier Emtec Energy launch the scheme. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Edinburgh Solar Co-operative board member Johanna Carrie, chair Richard Dixon, city environment convener Councillor Lesley Hinds and Chris Clark from solar panels supplier Emtec Energy launch the scheme. Picture: Colin Hattersley

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LESSONS at a special school in the capital are going green as a pioneering renewable energy scheme is powered up to begin generating electricity.

Oaklands School on Ferry Road is the first public building in the city to be producing continuous power to the grid as part of the UK’s largest community-owned urban solar farm.

It is the second to get photovoltaic panels under the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative (ECSC) scheme, which was launched late last year.

The co-operative has successfully raised nearly £1.5 million from members of the public to fit panels on up to 25 council-owned buildings, with profits pledged to community projects across the city.

Now pupils and teachers at Oaklands are hoping for a bit of sunshine to get the maximum benefit from the new system.

ECSC chair Richard Dixon, who is also director of the environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth Scotland, joined students, teachers and co-op members to celebrate the panels going live.

“This is a tremendous milestone for the scheme and meets our dual ambitions of generating green energy and a new income stream for the benefit of community projects,” he said.

“Oaklands School forms part of a programme that will be rolled out throughout the summer, with completion planned for September.

“The project is wholly owned by the public and will help Edinburgh generate significant quantities of green energy. We hope this scheme gives encouragement to others to take on similar ambitious initiatives.”

Council environment convener Lesley Hinds, an ECSC board member, added: “This is a fantastic project and I’m delighted to see Oaklands as one of the first to gain from it and the many environmental and economic benefits solar energy can bring.

“In Edinburgh we are constantly striving to reduce carbon emissions, and the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-op will help us to achieve our ambitious target of reducing the city’s emissions by 42 per cent by 2020.”

Industry leaders have also welcomed the new scheme.

“Communities across Scotland have turned to renewable energy for a variety of very practical reasons,” said Lindsay Roberts, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables.

“These schemes have also educated people about the importance of the energy they use and provided a valuable source of income to areas which may not have seen investment otherwise, and it’s great to see Edinburgh’s latest step in the same direction come to fruition.”

Members get a capped return on share interest. Surplus profit goes to community benefit.