Solar for Schools
The large flat rooftops found on school buildings across the U.S. are prime real estate for solar energy systems. Combined with the solar canopies over the large parking lots and ground mounted solar array's across the acres of vacant land, school systems in the U.S. could be saving millions of dollars by going solar.
A detailed report was completed by the SEIA few years ago that outlined the vast opportunity for solar on schools. The report highlights how the offset of energy consumption from the grid by use of clean, zero emission solar can deliver significant cost savings to schools and their districts. That over time, solar energy systems can serve as a key hedge against projected increases in electric utility rates and at the same time providing deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants. Protecting our planet and the people in which inhabit it.
- An analysis performed for this report found that 450 school districts could each save more than $1,000,000 over 30 years by installing a solar energy system.
- Of the 125,000 schools in the country, between 40,000 and 72,000 can “go solar” cost-effectively.
- The 3,727 U.S. schools that already have solar installations have a combined capacity of 490 megawatts (MW), and generate roughly 642,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity each year.
- The electricity generated in one year by all 3,727 PV systems represents a combined $77.8 million per year in utility bills ‒ an average of almost $21,000 per year per school. This combined energy value is roughly equivalent to 155,000 tablet computers or nearly 2,200 new teachers’ salaries per year.
So why is cost reductions at schools so important?
From a recent study done by Pearson, the United States has a “cognitive skills and educational attainment” score of 0.39, which makes the U.S. rank fourteenth out of forty countries ranked in that category.
This is disappointing when you consider the amount of resources that are at the disposal of the U.S. when compared to other Countries; unfortunately this is not going to get better soon. Existing federal and local government debts pilling up, we are seeing large budget cuts directly affecting the education sector. Due to these cuts over the past few years, U.S. school districts are utilizing out-of-date materials and educational programs; schools are being forced to make staff cuts, increasing pupil to teacher ratios; and we are even seeing whole school closures.
The Department of Energy estimates that education facilities across the U.S. spend over $8 Billion in energy costs a year, coming in as the 2nd largest budget cost for schools behind personnel.
Programs and initiatives like Brighter Classrooms have been designed to assist schools in going solar, particularly those that are budget challenged.