Energy Up prizewinning school saves around 10,000 euros a year with the solar panels acquired

The INOV D project developed by students and teachers alike earned the D. Francisco Manuel de Melo Secondary School, in Amadora, first prize in the second edition of the initiative: a 20,000-euro solar panel facility, resulting in significant energy savings for the establishment of education

The crowd of students in the grounds of D. Francisco Manuel de Melo Secondary School, in Amadora, is a clear sign of a break between classes, however it soon becomes obvious that this is not just another round of playtime activities. The track for solar energy-driven vehicles set up next to one of the pavilions attracts the attention of both children and adults vying for a close look at the prototypes created by the INOV D project. This work, developed by students and teachers alike, won the school first prize in the second edition of Energy Up: a solar panel facility worth 20,000 euros.

“This prize will help us to reduce our energy costs”, emphasised Rui Fontinhas, director of the Amadora West School Group, during the ceremony to unveil the panels. At a time when energy costs have risen as a result of the consequences of the war in Ukraine, the use of renewable energies is essential to reducing the bills. “Everything that enables the school to reduce its expenditure on energy is of great importance. In this case, we are saving around 1,000 euros a month and this can amount to as much as 10,000 euros a year”, he adds.

The “INOV D, Innovate your school, Innovate Portugal” project was the catalyst for yet another step towards energy transition at this school, which has already replaced virtually all its conventional lighting with LED solutions and which takes efficiency very seriously. This multi-purpose initiative, promoted at this school since 2005, strives to “encourage and inspire students to focus on integration between different disciplines”, promotes “inclusion” and places value on dealing with challenges, explains professor Victor Palminha. From the creation of photovoltaic solar prototypes to design thinking, the main goal is to convey concepts related to sustainability and entrepreneurship in an educational and entertaining manner. In the last academic year, students were challenged to simulate the foundation of a company for the year 2050, when they will be around 40 years old, and to imagine what the energies and technologies of the future will be like. “They are trained in discourse, marketing and are challenged to create prototypes”, adds Victor Palminha.

The solar panels will enable D. Francisco Manuel de Melo secondary school to achieve annual energy savings of up to 10,000 euros

From now on, the D. Francisco Manuel de Melo Secondary School can demonstrate to its students, in loco, the importance of sources of renewable energy in society. The practical example on the premises will, in addition to ensuring savings of up to 10,000 euros a year, enable children to understand how the school community is helping to prevent the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. “We are cutting CO2 emissions by up to 12 tons a year [due to the installation of these solar panels]. This also means that the school can allocate more money to what is most important: better standards of education”, argued Alfonso Ortal, CEO of Galp Solar.


The achievement of the INOV D students and teachers, the winners of the grand prize in the second edition of Energy Up, is, however, not limited to energy savings. “The impact of these initiatives and projects is wide-reaching”, pointed out Ricardo Faria, a town councillor for the Municipality of Amadora, one of the officials in charge of education. First of all, in the development of “students' skills with respect to the environment, sustainability and resource management” with “great use for the future”. As far as the Amadora community is concerned, he says, this awareness is essential in order to give rise to “a positive focus on conveying these values” at home, among family and friends.


Moreover, underlines Helena Gil, from the Directorate-General for Education, the practical work carried out at schools enables students “to interconnect the different disciplines and understand what is useful and why” the knowledge transmitted in mathematics and physics-chemistry classes is useful, for example. The senior technician adds that “if there is no involvement, students won´t learn” and argues that “it is much easier to transmit knowledge” through project methodology. “And whoever is talking about energy, is talking about the circular economy or any other topic”, she reinforces.

In the opinion of the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), projects such as INOV D and initiatives such as Energy Up, promoted by the Galp Foundation, enable us to “meet the goals of environmental education”. Francisco Teixeira, from the APA, guarantees that this entity will continue to provide support and that this is proof that “nothing is done on a random basis”. ADENE - Energy Agency holds a similar viewpoint, said Marisa Alves, who was surprised by the quality of the project developed at this school in Amadora. “Creative and innovative ideas are what we need for the future,” she recalled.

“The knowledge on display here goes through a theoretical phase, followed by a practical phase, which, in my opinion, is the most important”, highlighted António Felizardo from the Directorate-General for Energy and Geology.


Partnerships between the Galp Foundation, Galp Solar and different institutions associated with energy and education have been fundamental throughout the two editions of Energy Up. The successful format, which has already awarded two schools 40,000 euros worth of solar panels, is back for a third edition and applications are open until April 28. “Apply. Application is a simple process conducted on the Galp Foundation website, and whoever wins will take home 20,000 euros in photovoltaic panels installed by Galp with benefits for 20, 25 years”, declares Diogo Sousa.

The Foundation's executive director also points out that this is just one of many initiatives the institution has promoted over the last 12 years. “More than two million students have already reaped the rewards and we have worked with over 20,000 schools”, he explains.

The competition designed to acknowledge the most outstanding school projects in the areas of the promotion of efficient energy consumption and sustainable mobility will once again reward the most creative ideas across the country. The winners of the third edition of Energy Up will be announced on May 30.