THE light of learning at Ilfracombe Junior School will shine just as bright but leave a far smaller carbon footprint from now on after it became the first school in town powered by solar energy. Electricity is now being generated by 51 panels installed on

THE light of learning at Ilfracombe Junior School will shine just as bright but leave a far smaller carbon footprint from now on after it became the first school in town powered by solar energy.Electricity is now being generated by 51 panels installed on the roof during half term, following a £50,000 from EDF Energy's Green Fund and the Low Carbon Building Programme.The 10.2 kilo watt panels, installed by NaturalWatt, will help power white boards, computers and lights, saving 3.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. This autumn solar thermal panels will be installed to reduce the amount of gas used to heat water in the kitchens for washing-up. Together the schemes will result in a 10 per cent reduction in electricity use and a 70 per cent reduction in water heating for the kitchen.The panels will also prove a valuable addition to lessons: Each classroom will have Internet access to live data showing how much electricity has been generated by the renewable technology and the CO2 saved. Chris Howard, co-ordinator of the project, said it showed the school was serious about making a difference:"It's really important to me that we make power from the sun, but the educational benefits are greater.""We are extremely grateful to EDF Energy and the Low Carbon Building Programme for helping us. Without their support this wouldn't have happened."Headteacher Catherine Cox added: "It's a great feeling to know our vision is finally coming to fruition. "This will not only support our planet's sustainable future but will promote future generations' knowledge and understanding of the importance of seeking and using renewable energy sources - and how great that we have shown it can be done in such a traditional school building."Peter Hofman of EDF Energy said they were delighted to support the scheme in a school where pupils were so actively involved in caring for the environment. The school is no stranger to "going green" - it has an eco-team of both teachers and children. One of its members, Niqui Moore, has set up the recycling of paper, cardboard, stamps, printer cartridges, spectacles, mobile phones and batteries. The school also runs a "hit squad" to turn off lights and close doors. Every week it composts more than 60 kilos of school dinners and lunch waste, which is used in the organic vegetable garden.