SOLAR panels could be installed on 35 more schools across the county as one council looks to fast-track schemes to save money and energy.

Oxford's Low Carbon Hub has already fitted solar panels to 25 Oxfordshire schools and identified a further 35 – but the projects must be completed by March 2019 when the Government’s ‘Feed in Tariff’ – providing discounts on solar energy – runs out.

Now Oxfordshire County Council is set to make the not-for-profit organisation exempt from its contract procedure rules in a bid to fit out the remaining schools.

The council’s director for property and investment, Alexandra Bailey, said: “Requiring each school to go through a separate procurement process is likely to create delays.

“To clear the way to accelerate the opportunity for further schools to benefit before the funding is withdrawn, we are requesting an exemption so that individual schools won’t need to do a procurement process.”

So far it has cost £1.7m to install panels on 25 schools: if the exemption is granted it will cost £770,000 for the 35 others.

Schools taking up the offer would be able to get cheap, clean electricity at 20 per cent below grid prices without the need to invest themselves.

Overall the scheme could see the 35 schools save some £18,000 a year and cut 340 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Low Carbon Hub CEO Barbara Hammond said: “We are delighted to continue our work with Oxfordshire County Council to develop our solar school project to get as many solar panels on the roofs of Oxfordshire schools as possible.

“Installing solar panels means that schools save money on their energy bills, they cut their carbon emissions, and can use the panels as an educational tool to teach their students about energy and the environment.”

Dr Hammond added: “The solar project also contains absolutely no costs for the schools.

“Schools across Oxfordshire have already been leading the way in benefitting from greener and cheaper electricity in this way but we want every school in the county to be benefitting too. We hope that lots of other schools will sign up to install the panels this summer before we lose the important Feed In Tariff subsidiary in March 2019.”

Larkrise Primary School was one of the first in the county to benefit from the Low Carbon Hub scheme in 2014, when 78 panels were installed on its roof following a successful community share offer.

The school has already saved £10,000 in bills and cut carbon emissions by 163 tonnes.

Ed Finch, a teacher at the school, said: “What was great about the hub’s offer is they do the fundraising and installation costs, and all we do is get cheaper power and produce less carbon.

“We pay less and we are able to learn more about being responsible citizens, so it was an easy decision to make.”