Senator Aisling Dolan - Strong Voice, New Vision.

The process of schools applying for solar panels under the Climate Action Fund must be made simpler

October 03, 2023

The process of schools applying for solar panels under the Climate Action Fund must be made simpler


Last year schools were promised access to funding for solar panels through the Climate Action Fund, yet there is still a lot of confusion on how this process works. Schools urgently want to know how and when they will be able to apply for funding,” Senator Dolan said.

I’ve spoken with principals who say that schools need clarity on how to apply, the timeline of a proposed project, and how much funding will be allocated for each individual project.

The difficulties in applying for these grants acts as a disincentive for principals applying to the scheme and this is disappointing. Many schools want to get involved but just can’t do so.

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan pledged to have solar panels on every school building in the country. We have around 3,200 primary schools and 700 secondary schools across the country. Currently, only 5% of primary schools and 10% of secondary schools have solar panels already installed. This progress is just too slow.

Obviously new classrooms and emergency repairs projects are going to be a priority for schools applying to the Department of Education for funding, however, there are many older school buildings that would be prime candidates to take part but cannot do so yet because of the administration constraints they’ve come across.

Schools can be encouraged to apply for solar panels knowing that it won’t impact on applications for other vital funding such as additional classrooms and school repairs in parallel.

Additional administrative support for principals in primary and secondary schools would assist with applying and managing the installation process which will reduce their heating & lighting costs especially coming into winter”, the Fine Gael Senator said.

Senator Dolan is Fine Gael’s Seanad spokesperson on Education and Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science.

We are in a cost-of-living crisis and as schools are struggling financially, the introduction of solar panels would really help reduce energy costs.

It’s crucial that solar energy is not exclusive to only a few schools. With the cost-of-living crisis accelerating by the day, there is no time to waste in putting solar panels on every school in Ireland.

Our schools are the hub of our communities, and it is essential that they are prioritised in our environmental efforts.

I’m calling on the Ministers Ryan and Foley to provide increased assistance to schools to make the application process for the Climate Action Fund simpler and to fulfil the promise of solar panels for all schools”, concluded Senator Dolan.