Schools’ Energy Co-operative


Schools’ Energy Co-operative has installed solar panels on schools across the country, working with a network of local groups.

Schools’ Energy Co-operative

The Schools’ Energy Co-operative installs community funded solar panel systems on schools free of charge, while giving all profits back to its member schools.

The not-for-profit scheme supports schools to cut their carbon emissions and generate green energy, saving them money and teaching children about sustainability. It works with the schools and local community groups to maximise the environmental, educational and community impact of the solar installations. The installation and maintenance costs of the systems are covered by share offers to the local community using a crowdfunding model.

The Schools’ Energy Co-operative was launched in 2014 to install solar panels at Glenleigh Park Primary Academy in East Sussex, which is still one of the largest community-owned solar energy systems in the UK. It has more than 750 members and has carried out installations on 80 schools across the UK. 

In 2018 the co-op won the Community Energy Award for the most outstanding renewable electricity generation project undertaken by a community group. The following year, it won Inspiring Co-op of the Year at the Co-op of the Year Awards. 

Mike Smyth, volunteer chair of the Schools’ Energy Co-operative, told Co-op News: Installations save schools money on their electricity bills, which allows them to direct funds to other areas like books or playground equipment. And, importantly, they normalise green energy. Children see how renewable energy works, and it becomes a school-gates conversation, showing a way to help tackle the climate emergency at a local level.”

New rules needed

Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.