GREATER Manchester Community Renewables (GMCR) are working with Salford City Council to encourage local people to invest in the renewable energy and climate change projects.

The projects include installing solar panels on the roofs of local schools and community buildings, and educating children and the community about where energy comes from and why climate change is important.

Dr Ali Abbas director of GMCR says: “Schools and community buildings will benefit from lower energy bills and they will be able to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions so that is good them and the planet.

“The investors will get an annual interest payment and they will be supporting something that is helping local people and businesses, which is positive for them, the local community and the environment.”

The group want to raise £250,000 to be able to install some of the solar panels by summer 2016. Originally the aim was to raise £1.5m and install solar panels on over 20 schools and community buildings, but due to the government’s U-turn on renewable energy funding, the voluntary group had to scale back their plans.

Dr Abbas says: “We are still keen to make sure the project happens and hopefully in the future we will be in a situation to persuade politicians, especially after the Paris Climate Change Summit, that we need to be supporting renewable energy rather than cutting back. This is really important; not just because we have lost the funding but it is a real opportunity to make a difference on climate change and support the local economy.”

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One of the other many benefits of this project, is the educational advantage for children in the schools with solar panels, who can learn where energy comes from, what climate change is all about and how it affects us.

Dr Abbas says: “It’s not just about installing them [solar panels] and saving some money, it’s about spreading the knowledge and learning about climate change and energy, not just for the children, but for parents and the wider community as well and hopefully our project will encourage more action and support for climate change in the community.”

However, it is not just solar panels. Currently, the group are focusing on solar panels because it has established technology and less regulatory hurdles to overcome to get the project running. But over time Dr Abbas says: “we will look at other options too like wind, hydroelectric and biomass. There are plenty of options to explore, but at this stage it is just solar as it is straightforward, effective and the option with minimal disruption for the groups involved.”

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