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Andrew Lansley is top of the class, Justine Greening is bottom, and the Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Davey is a disappointing ‘must try harder’ in a new, annual league table of MPs and solar power, Friends of the Earth can reveal today (Friday, 20 June).

The environment charity’s league table ranks 32 cabinet members according to the number of solar installations in their constituency. 

It comes ahead of Saturday, the longest and lightest day of the year – potentially the best day for solar panels – and as Friends of the Earth urges all MPs to get behind its new Schools Run on Sun campaign (supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery), which aims to make it easier for schools to run on solar power.

Andrew Lansley rules the school with 3108 solar installations in Cambridgeshire South, and David Cameron earns House points in second place, with 2143 installations in Witney.

Justine Greening meanwhile ranks last with just 114 solar installations in her constituency, Putney. The Energy Secretary Ed Davey himself puts on a disappointing performance in third from last place, with just 252 installations in Kingston & Surbiton. 

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

“Most of the cabinet should be in detention – they’re lagging embarrassingly far behind Andrew Lansley when it comes to locally-installed solar power. 

“While the number of solar installations varies considerably between constituencies, most cabinet members have done little to help households, schools and businesses to reap the benefits of solar power – too many are stuck on outdated forms of energy, like shale gas.

“We urgently need to roll out clean energy across all of our towns and neighbourhoods – every MP should get behind the idea of making it easier for schools to run on sun, and boost their ranking in our solar league table.”

New analysis by Friends of the Earth shows that if every school in the UK ran on solar power, every year they could collectively save enough money to pay the salaries of more than 6,000 teachers, produce as much electricity as burning 100,000 tonnes of oil, and save as many carbon emissions as taking 110,000 cars off the road for a year.

The environment charity calculates that schools can each save up to £8,000 per year through solar panels – meaning more money to spend on facilities like libraries, playgrounds and nature gardens. 

Volunteers from more than 50 local Friends of the Earth groups will be raising awareness on high streets tomorrow (Saturday, 21 June), highlighting the benefits of solar power for schools, and collecting signatures on the charity’s petition aimed at the Education Secretary.

Notes to editor

1.            In efforts to boost renewable energy across the UK, Friends of the Earth has launched its new Run on Sun campaign, which aims to make it much easier for schools to save thousands of pounds through clean energy:  
2.            Currently not many schools are aware of the benefits of solar power, know how to get solar panels, or can afford the upfront costs. That’s why, with the help of a donation from the People’s Postcode Lottery, Friends of the Earth has produced a free solar information pack for schools: The charity is also calling on the Education Secretary Michael Gove to enable schools to borrow money for solar panels – as they can for insulation:  
3.            Friends of the Earth has written to all MPs to ask them to lend their support to solar power on schools.
4.            A Friends of the Earth media briefing on solar schools and the move to community energy is now available for download:  
5.            Department of Energy and Climate Change data from March 2014 ranks MP constituencies by total solar installed: This includes all kinds of solar e.g. domestic, rooftop and land-based solar. 
6.            How much money a school is able to save through solar power will depend on how big their system is, and how much electricity they use. Friends of the Earth calculates that a 50kW solar power system could save a school up to £8,000 per year. Around £5,000 could be made through the Feed-In tariff, a payment fixed by the Government. The other £3,000 comes from savings made on energy bills by the school using the electricity generated, plus the sale of any excess energy back to the electricity grid.
7.            There are almost 30,000 schools in the UK. If every school installed 50kW solar panels they could produce 1264GWh electricity every year – equivalent to burning 100,000 tonnes of oil.
8.            Assuming that solar on schools offsets natural gas, which has a carbon intensity of 445g/kWh, and if every school in the UK with 50kW solar panels would produce approximately 1264GWh of electricity per year, Friends of the Earth calculates there would be collective annual carbon savings of 562,480 tonnes. This is equivalent to taking approximately 110,000 new cars off the roads for a year, if they emit 129g/co2 per km, driving 40,000km/yr. 
9.            Friends of the Earth is grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery who have generously provided financial support for Friends of the Earth’s campaigning, including Run on Sun. This funding will help to transform the energy supply to schools and communities, enabling them to generate their own clean electricity and make much-needed savings. 

If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.


Published by Friends of the Earth Trust