Minister Michelle Gildernew launched the second phase of the Switched on Schools initiative, which will also incorporate educating young people about sustainable energy.

Phase One of the project, which was completed last September, saw participation from schools including Castlederg high school in Strabane and St Patrick’s high school in Limavady.

Now 16 more rural schools will benefit from the installation of solar panels and small-scale wind turbines, and an online educational resource will also be developed.

Minister Gildernew said: “This is a landmark initiative which places renewable energy at the heart of rural schools. Schools are vital in shaping the thinking and behaviour of the next generation and these young people have their whole lives ahead of them as energy consumers.

“School children will learn about renewable energy and issues such as climate change in their classrooms and will then see how they can contribute to a more sustainable world.”

The energy generated will go towards powering the schools.

Last month the UK government announced that it wants all new school buildings to be carbon neutral by 2016.

Ben Meggeson

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie