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Green Party bill will make solar-powered schools a reality

Marking the longest day of the year, Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly will be introducing a bill to the Seanad on Monday 21st June, which will facilitate the rollout of solar-powered schools in the future. The bill will amend outdated Planning and Development Regulations to finally remove planning restrictions and allow the installation of solar panels on public buildings, including schools, without planning permission.

Senator O’Reilly stated;

“We need to act now to protect our children’s future and ensure our younger generations are educated in climate-neutral energy resources. It makes sense for schools to lead by example with solar powered energy. When a school powers its whiteboards for free using the power of the sun, it means lower bills and more money for schools. 

“We have the potential for lots of solar power in Ireland, but very few solar panels generating electricity. The reason for that has nothing really to do with our weather or perceived lack of sun, and everything to do with policy and red tape. 

“At the moment, schools and public buildings need to seek planning permission to install even one solar panel and this can take months of paperwork and formalities. There are also restrictions on the size and number of panels that can be used, and this means they are too small for the needs of the building. This bill amendment will open up opportunities for schools and other public buildings to install enough panels to finally power some or all of their electricity needs and to sell any excess electricity that they generate back to the grid.” 

Green Party TD and Chair of the Oireachtas Committee Environment and Climate Action, Brian Leddin added;

“It is critical to Ireland’s future and our new climate bill commitments that we make access to renewable energy as easy and affordable as possible. In addition to schools and public buildings, this bill will also address the solar power needs of homes, businesses, industrial buildings and agricultural buildings. It will remove the red tape and make it easier, cheaper and quicker for buildings to install solar panels to produce free, clean renewable electricity.”

Dublin Bay South Byelection candidate Cllr Claire Byrne said; 

“It is timely that this bill is being published to mark the Summer Solstice. Despite not being the sunniest country, Ireland actually has a huge potential for electricity generation from solar, displacing fossil fuels and decentralising our energy system. What better time than the solstice to make it easier for schools, local authorities and others to contribute to the clean energy future. 

“There is huge potential for renewable energy right across the country, and I would love to see this rolled out across schools and other public buildings in Dublin Bay South. This is one of the initiatives I will be driving forward in Government if I am elected as TD in next month’s byelection.”

Senator Pauline O’Reilly will be bringing the bill to the Seanad for debate on Monday 28th June.