A NORTH Oxford community group has raised thousands of pounds to put solar panels on the roof of two local schools.

It means St Barnabas School in Hart Street will soon generate half its electricity from the roof-mounted solar panels.

The Cherwell School will also receive additional solar panels to the ones which have already been installed.

Oxford North Community Renewables (Oncore) has managed to raise more than £97,000 to pay for the 259 panels.

Work will begin in the February half-term break to install 110 of these on to St Barnabas School.

Sam Clarke, chairman of Oncore, said: “Our hope is that we will be on the roofs of Cherwell in the summer. That’s our best guess but it all depends on getting the leases with the schools sorted.

“I am hoping that the benefits of this will come in a variety of different ways but the one I would really like to see is the children getting excited about having solar panels on their school’s roof.

“We had a presentation from the eco-group at St Barnabas from eight and nine-year-olds and it was absolutely delightful and if those ideas can spread a little bit through the school then that will have been quite an exciting thing to have done.”

The money has been raised from investors who have given their money in exchange for a future return.

Electricity generated by the scheme will be sold to the schools at a discounted rate. Any that is unused goes back to the national grid.

The clean electricity generation is expected to save 28 tonnes of CO2 every year.

The two schemes would generate around 53,000kw hours of electricity per year, which is equivalent to powering an average primary school for six months or 15 households for a year.

In 2011 Oncore put more than 200 solar panels on two roofs at The Cherwell School which generate around 47Kw at their peak.

Cherwell headteacher Paul James said: “Having already made available roofs on the north site of the school we made the decision to commit to spreading sustainable energy and this is very much in line with our own sustainability policy and the work we do with our students.

“We see the sustainability advantage to what we are doing as well as the educational advantage about the responsibility to the environment.

“It will cut our electricity bills as well but that’s not the main driver for doing it.”