Before we decide on the benefits of going solar for schools, let us discuss the deciding factors and how favorable are they for schools.
- Roof space: In the case of schools, firstly it is important to define the type off roof that the particular school has. Although most schools have a flat roof, there are large number of schools, especially government-aided schools that have sloped roofs, in which case the feasibility of the installation has to be identified. Moreover, it is also possible to consider parking lots for solar rooftop installations.
- Type of load: Schools typically have lesser loads than colleges. Most of the loads covered include fans, lights, lab machinery, computers, etc. Unlike colleges that use, expensive lab equipments, this is minimized in the case of schools. The absence of hostels for most schools means loads are going to be less.
- Timing: Most schools function during the daytime. Therefore solar installations can cover most of their power requirements during the day. In order to account for any nighttime use of power, grid power can be utilized or an efficient battery bank can be installed.
Why should schools go solar?
- Effective in schools with unreliable grid: In many developing countries where grid power is often unreliable or sometimes note even available, off-grid solar rooftop systems are the way to go.
- Source of income generation: In places where government supported schemes for solar installations are present, school facilities can generate a lot of income from generating solar electricity which can in turn be used for investing in libraries, playgrounds etc.
- Educational opportunities: Teachers are provided with an incredible opportunity to teach concepts in science , technology and engineering. Activities that promote solar learning by means of the solar panels installed could prove to be an extremely productive educational exercise.
- Save the environment: Setting up solar panels plays a major role in reducing the carbon footprint. Moreover, it could also be a lesson in environmental education for students.
- Energy security –Rooftop solar plants can deliver power during load-shedding, ensuring that critical loads are always running
- Cost-effective – Rooftop solar power has a levelised cost of Rs. 4.5-5/kWh (or less), considerably lower than diesel power at Rs. 18/kWh (or more). Additionally, your energy cost is now fixed for the next 25 years, unlike diesel power which keeps increasing
- Reliable – A solar power plant has no moving parts, ensuring reliable power over 25 years
- Minimal maintenance – A solar plant requires very little maintenance from the energy consumer
- Flexible configurations – Solar panels can be installed on different kinds of roofs, including covered parking areas, as long as the structure can bear the weight of the panels. They are also highly scalable, with rooftop plants ranging in capacity from less than 1 kW to more than 1 MW
Just like the solar industry at large, more number of schools are going solar. As a general consensus, solar rooftop installations are beneficial schools in reducing power bills and gaining energy independence. A combination of low energy usage, unused rooftop space and better integration with the education system makes schools ideal for solar rooftop installations.
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