When people think about solar panels, they usually think of the large panels in residential areas or corporations. This leaves out a largely untapped market for solar panels: Universities. They usually have large grounds that can be utilized in gathering energy and reducing electricity bills.
Not just in terms of the overall savings, but also in promoting innovation and enrollment, universities, as well as schools, can see a lot of benefits of using solar panels. Educational institutions can lead the way for the rest of us by going fully solar.
How Much Energy Does Schools Use in a Year?
An average school in the US spends about $6 billion every year on energy. This calculation covers lighting, space heating, water heating, and other electricity costs. It is estimated that energy covers 2.2% of the school’s total expenditure.
Though it might seem like a small percentage, by adapting more energy-efficient strategies, these costs can be reduced by a lot. The data shows that we are currently spending 25% more on energy costs than required. The cost of solar energy has fallen by 99% since 1977 and it is like to become even cheaper. These funds can be properly utilized in other sectors if we better mobilize solar energy.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost for Schools?
A regular solar panel can generate about 250 watts of power at peak performance while assuming these panels get at least five hours of direct sunlight. The daily requirement for a school is around 14 KW. However, there will be some energy loss during conversion and transportation.
To provide a school with about 300 KW of energy, they would need to install about 900 to 1200 panels. The number might seem pretty high, but considering the area available, this should be completely feasible.
Why Make the Switch?
While a significant number of schools and universities have already begun investing in renewable energy, there are still many that are not yet convinced. It is understandable that traditional methods are difficult to let go of. This is why we have the following list of reasons why using solar panels is a great idea for schools and universities:
1. University Roofs are Perfect for Solar Panels
In most cases, schools and universities hold large grounds that are perfectly suited for solar panels. Furthermore, the rooftops remain largely unused.
This means that these institutions can house dozens of these panels without having to face any storage issues. The open, flat space can be mobilized to generate a large amount of energy without disrupting any day-to-day functioning.
2. Lower Operating Costs
As we’ve addressed previously, these educational institutions are spending a large part of their budgets on electricity bills. The solution to this is a perpetual source of energy: the sun. The biggest benefit of making this switch is that there is little to no operational costs for solar energy.
The primary costs that you will have to face are the initial purchase and perhaps the professional installation. Beyond that, these panels are relatively low-maintenance apart from occasional cleaning. But not to worry, you can also DIY clean your solar panels with proper guidelines followed. This is thus a low-risk, high-gain switch for all the schools and universities.
3. Aids in Development
As institutions that are empowering students towards the future, it’s fair only if universities themselves play a significant role in terms of development. If solar energy is the future, then people first need to see it being practiced by reputed organizations in order to invest themselves.
Both schools and universities can propel change by being role models and encouraging the younger generation in the right direction.
Benefits of Solar Panels for Schools and Universities
It is always great to hear about the great impacts of switching to solar panels. However, for the move to actually happen, universities will need to see personal benefits. Being an initiator of change sounds great on paper, but will it be able to provide the organizations with any real gains? Fair enough. We have drawn up the following list of benefits of using solar panels for schools and universities:
1. Cost Saving
The primary benefit of solar panels is definitely cost-efficiency. There is quite a lot of long-term savings that can be achieved with the use of solar panels. Through policies like on-site power purchase agreements (PPA), the solar energy generated can be sold back to the organization at a much reduced and fixed rate.
One of the schools in California that adopted solar panels is the Kern High School District. Over the next 25 years, this school is projected to save as much as $80 million dollars in electricity costs.
This can be an excellent saving strategy considering that the average cost of a solar panel system is only between $1.75 to $2.75 per watt installed.
Considering the large area available, schools and universities should have no problem installing as much as a thousand or more of these units. These can then shoulder a large portion of the electricity costs. Furthermore, these funds can then be better utilized in other sectors.
Unlikely most cost-effective investments that fall short in terms of durability, solar panels are here to last. They generally come with a warranty of at least 25 years and continue to function well beyond that as well. This will be a huge plus as the electricity costs are on a constant rise.
These panels can be your dependable source of energy for decades as they are not prone to easy wear and tear. Furthermore, the lasting warranty means that any issues will be attended to immediately.
3. Boosts Enrollment
The world is becoming more and more environmentally conscious. As such, it is important for educational institutes to align their goals according to current trends. Renewable energy is very important not just to students but also teachers, stakeholders, and families alike.
Many schools and universities have made this switch. In terms of competition as well, green energy is preferred more these days. Making this switch thus can help attract the younger crowd and boost enrollment. Green energy can now be the deciding factor in whether or not a student will choose your institution over competitors.
4. Unlimited Reliable Energy
The major benefit of solar panels is definitely unparalleled reliability. The sun gives out consistent energy that is not being properly harnessed right now. But with these large grounds and proper maintenance, these organizations could reap the benefits of unlimited reliable energy.
Right from durability, you can see that these panels have been built to provide you with long-lasting, energy-efficient lighting.
Future of Solar Panels for Schools and Universities
Awareness regarding green energy is growing fast. Over 5500 schools across the United States have already made the switch to solar panels. Research conducted by the Solar Energy Industries Association reported that 5% of all K-12 US schools have switched to solar energy. Furthermore, the capacity has nearly doubled in the last three years.
The economic benefits are undeniable as the large-scale changes are visible. Even if we put the financial aspects aside, the growing efficiency of these panels and the environmental benefits alone are enough to push for this change. With the way things are going, we can surely expect many other schools and universities to adopt solar panels.
Table of Contents
- How Much Energy Does Schools Use in a Year?
- How Much Do Solar Panels Cost for Schools?
- Why Make the Switch?
- Benefits of Solar Panels for Schools and Universities
- Future of Solar Panels for Schools and Universities