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3 reasons why solar PV is right for your school

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Here are the top three reasons why a solar system is right for your school.

School authorities are tapping into Alberta’s solar advantage by installing solar. They are reducing utility costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and teaching students about renewable energy.

1. STEAM learning opportunities for students   

Installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems provides students with hands-on STEAM learning opportunities, helping them develop the environmental and energy literacy skills to succeed in a world that is de-carbonizing, and shifting towards renewable energy sources.

Note: STEAM Education is an approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking.

Renewable energy topics are being incorporated into many different curriculum areas including: physics, chemistry, math, biology, problem solving, project management, economics, energy systems, safety, and risk management.

This recent report by Alberta’s Education Task Force, outlines key curriculum areas needed to foster robust environmental and energy literacy in students, preparing them to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

“Schools should prepare us for the future, not the past. The future of the world will be built on sustainability. If we learn what sustainable technologies are available when we are in school, we will be able to help shape the future of global sustainability when we graduate.” 

– Quinn, student at Jasper Place High School in Edmonton
Students from Cochrane High School with their solar PV array.
Photo credit: Cochrane High School.

Students in Alberta are already demonstrating leadership. The Cochrane High Sustainable Development Committee installed a 50 kW solar PV system on their school with funding from the Solar for Schools Program.

Students led all aspects of the project, from the initial idea, to fundraising, project management, liaising with solar contractors, and presenting to Town Council and the school superintendent.

2. Reduce your future electricity costs

Alberta has some of the best access to solar energy in Canada, and significantly more than other world leaders in solar energy solutions, like Germany. Solar PV in Alberta is producing a lot of electricity, reducing energy bills, and creating buffers against future utility rate increases. The recent decrease in price of installing solar PV makes it more affordable.

Solar production potential per year (kWh/kW installed) across Canada, as compared to Germany, a global leader in solar PV installations. Source: energydata.info

For example, a 100 kW solar PV system installed on a school in Alberta could potentially generate 120,000 kWh per year and reduce annual electricity costs by $9,600 (assuming production of 1,200 kWh per kW DC installed and using an average electricity rate of $0.08/kWh).

At a cost of approximately $165,000, this system would be eligible for a $82,500 rebate from the Solar for Schools Program and could expect a simple payback of less than 10 years!

The Action Centre’s Solar For Schools Program provides rebates on a $/W installed basis that covers up to 50% of the total costs of solar PV systems installed on Charter, Public, Separate, and Francophone schools in Alberta (check your eligibility here).

Solar PV systems have little to no annual maintenance costs and their minimum expected lifetime exceeds 25 years. This means that by including a solar PV project in budget planning, schools are guaranteed long-term annual savings, freeing up money for other priorities.

3. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Generating renewable electricity will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, given Alberta’s emissions-intensive electricity grid. The electricity generated by the solar PV array example outlined above would offset electricity generated by conventional sources, reducing the school’s annual emissions by 64 tonnes CO2e. This is the same as taking 13 cars off the road every year the system operates.

Our youth will experience some of the greatest impacts of climate change in their lifetimes, but only 9% of them believe that the world will act quickly enough to address the issue.

Tip: The Solar for Schools Program is a great opportunity to show students that your school is committed to educating and empowering the next generation for the transition to a low carbon future.

Not sure how to start? Check out these resources:

Ready to take action for your school?

Submit a Solar for Schools Program Expression of Interest