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The solar panels at The Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School in Abu Dhabi, installed using funding from the Zayed Future Energy Prize. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
The solar panels at The Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School in Abu Dhabi, installed using funding from the Zayed Future Energy Prize. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

Zayed Future Energy Prize money buys Dh150,000 new solar-panel system for Abu Dhabi school

Funding from Abu Dhabi’s Masdar has helped two schools in the UAE and Britain install renewable energy systems.

A school in the UAE and one in Britain have installed renewable energy systems thanks to funding from the Zayed Future Energy Prize.

The Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School in Abu Dhabi, and Okehampton College in Devon, England, each received US$100,000 (Dh368,000) last year in recognition of their energy-saving programmes.

Since they were honoured during a ceremony in January in the capital, both schools have used the money to fund further energy-saving measures.

During the summer holidays, the Abu Dhabi school installed a Dh150,000 solar photovoltaic system on its rooftop that has been feeding electricity to the school since September 4. The three devices are each capable of generating 3.8 kilowatts of electricity at peak times.

Anita Saul, an English-language teacher and the environmental club coordinator at the school, said the initiative had “created a total change in the school”.

“We are now saving a lot of energy,” Mrs Saul said.

The system provides all of the school’s power apart from its air conditioning, she explained.

Students are excited about the system and some have been trained to help maintain it.

“We are attracting many students to the field of renewable energy,” Ms Saul said. “We are not a rich school, compared to others ... but some of our students are very bright.”

At Okehampton College, solar panels capable of providing a third of the school’s energy needs were installed several years ago, said Keith Webber, the college’s community technology coordinator.

“Now we have got a wind turbine thanks to the Zayed Future Energy Prize,” he said.

The 11-kilowatt turbine, installed on a hill behind the school, further reduces the school’s reliance on grid power by about 15 per cent.

It cost £90,000 (Dh528,000), most of which was spent on a 600-metre cable connecting the turbine to the school. The system has been designed so that a second turbine can be added.

Despite the high initial cost of installing the projects, the school’s energy bills are now covered entirely thanks to government subsidies for generators of clean power.

The school is also preparing to install a £125,000 bio-mass heating unit, using sustainably sourced wood pellets.

The projects have had a positive effect on the school’s community. As pupils learn more about the benefits of clean energy, they in turn teach their families.

The school organises special events for parents on topics such as energy efficiency and clean power, and Mr Webber believes this has encouraged more people in the area to install solar systems at their homes.

“The message has spread to the entire community,” he said.

The Zayed Awards’ Global High School Prize falls under the UAE’s commitment to the UN secretary general’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

Two other schools, in Mexico and Tanzania, were also awarded US$100,000 each.

vtodorova@thenational.ae

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