What is a Solar School?
People are always asking us “What is a Solar School?” The answer is simple: It’s a solar electricity installation at any type of school or education center that uses the solar energy system as a teaching tool and hopefully is designed so the panels are visible from the school grounds. We want future students to ask "What are those panels for?" And most schools include live data so their students can see how much electricity their systems are creating from the solar panels at their school.
The PV system consists of three parts: The data collection system, the inverter, and the solar panels.
Funding for solar school installations can come from a variety of places. School districts can simply buy the equipment and the installations. Sometimes schools raise their own funding and sometimes school groups like PTAs or other parent groups raise the funds. We partner with a number of organizations around the country that sponsor their own solar school initiatives. The American Electric Power Foundation (AEP), the PG&E Foundation, TXU Energy, and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF) all do contribute or have contributed in the past large sums of money to help pay for a large number of solar school installations in a variety of sizes all over the US and even some outside the US. The installations have all been connected to teacher training and educational workshops and most of the educational side has been handled by our partner NEED (www.NEED.org). AEP has sponsored more than 100 schools in its Learning from Light Program as has PG&E in its PG&E Solar Schools Program. TXU Energy has just started its TXU Energy Solar Academy and already there are 25 successful school projects with more coming in 2010. And ICECF will see its 200th solar school installation go in during 2010.
The latest organization to create a solar school initiative with us is the Walmart Foundation. For its initiative, the Walmart Foundation is funding 4 solar school projects in 5 cities around the US. Each installation will be 5 kW in size (basically to provide the electricity for 5 average classrooms). The Cities are Chicago, Washington DC, Seattle, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. These installations will take place throughout 2010. NEED is handling all of the teacher training workshops and educational support and there will be workshops held in each city in the Fall of 2010.
And we try and feature all of our solar school projects on our blog site: EnergySeeds.org