Minister Naughten joins SSE Airtricity and Intel to switch on 'Solar for Schools' project

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD, has today unveiled a unique and innovative Solar PV-and-Battery powered technology project that enables five schools in Leixlip, Co. Kildare, to generate and store their own energy supply directly from the sun.

The ambitious ‘Solar for Schools’ project is the brainchild of leading energy and technology partners SSE Airtricity and Intel Ireland, and is supported by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) as part of its ‘Better Energy Communities’ fund.

The project combines Solar PV-and-Battery powered technology which has been installed in each of the participating schools, allowing these energy users to generate and store their own energy rather than draw down energy from the grid. The aim of the project is to increase community focus on sustainability and create a greater understanding of how renewable energy and storage can help serve our energy needs.

The five schools participating in the joint Intel-SSE Airtricity project are:

  • Scoil Bhride
  • Scoil Mhuire
  • Scoil San Carlo Junior
  • Scoil San Carlo Senior
  • Gaelscoil Ui Dhalaigh

Solar for Schools is part of an ongoing multi-million euro partnership programme between Intel and SSE Airtricity to test latest Demand Side Management energy technologies.

Under this latest initiative between the two organisations, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have been installed free-of-charge into the participating schools.

The installed technology not only generates greener energy but also stores it, allowing the schools to use the stored electricity supply when they need it. This helps to reduce the amount of wastage in electricity generation through self-consumption and eases demand on the grid at peak times.

Minister Naughten visited San Carlo Junior School to officially launch the Solar for Schools initiative and see the innovative power supply project working first-hand. As part of the launch the Minister had the opportunity to meet representatives and students from each of the participating schools and to hear about their experiences of the project so far. 

Speaking at the launch, Minister Denis Naughten said:

“Partnership is crucial to most successes in life, whether within technology companies, across communities, within schools and most certainly within Government. Better Energy Communities’ projects are no different and this initiative has demonstrated inspiring levels of partnership, co-operation and innovative thinking, involving home owners, energy suppliers, large multi-national corporations and teams from the SEAI and my own Department.”

Each participating school has received eight Solar PV panels (2kWp) and one LG Chem battery, each capable of storing up to 7kWh in electricity capacity – enough generation to typically power more than 10 school computers or interactive whiteboards each day. In total, 40 Solar PV panels and five LG Chem batteries have been installed at the five schools, generating a combined total of 35kWh in electricity storage capacity daily.

The green energy generated from the sun and stored for use by the five Leixlip schools is enough to offset over 50 tonnes of harmful CO2 emissions annually. 

Roy Baker, Director of Transformation at SSE Airtricity, commented:

“At SSE Airtricity we’re passionate about innovating and investing in the design of tomorrow’s greener and smarter energy system. Over the next 20 years, renewable energy and smart grids will change the way in which we use electricity, and the electricity we use will continue to decarbonise. We are proud to be partnering with Intel to deliver ground-breaking Solar PV-and-battery technology that is helping these local schools realise the exciting potential that renewable power can have to power their everyday lives. It truly represents the future of how we will use energy.”

Director of Public Affairs at Intel Ireland, Hugh Hardiman, added:

“Intel Ireland is committed to being a leader in environmental sustainability and has demonstrated this commitment since first establishing operations here in Leixlip in 1989. We are also committed to, and proud of, our strong and longstanding relationship with our local communities and this project provides an innovative way for us to support local schools as they embark on their renewable energy journey.”

This joint SSE Airtricity and Intel project is the latest in a multi-million euro partnership programme looking at the consumer benefits of demand side management in the energy supply chain. Both companies are participating in the EU’s Horizon 2020 ‘RealValue Project’. Under the €15.5m project, SSE Airtricity and Intel are working with other leaders in the energy supply chain to provide sustainable and efficient upgrades to ultra-modern electric heating systems in over 600 homes across Ireland.