A 2017 report by The Solar Foundation, SEIA and Generation 180 found the number of K-12 schools with solar has doubled since 2014. Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, discovered schools are going solar for a number of reasons. For one, the falling cost of components (minus panels for now) and high price of electricity in some states makes it financially viable.
Solar on schools also presents an educational opportunity. Schools can incorporate solar into the curriculum and teach students about job prospects in the solar industry.
“We started a solar schools campaign because we recognize that schools are really the heart of the community,” said Tish Tablan, national organizer for Generation 180. “Through schools, you can educate the next generation and make sure that clean energy is a part of their future.”
The environmental and health benefits of solar also motivate schools to go solar. Schools can help contribute to state- or city-wide RPS standards, or can set clean energy goals for themselves.
Solar-powered schools with battery backup can also act as emergency shelters during natural disasters. One such school is Susan E. Wagner High School in Staten Island, according to the report. During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the school was used as a shelter with diesel generators. Its new solar+storage system provides a sustainable, green alternative to generators for the next big storm.
Schools require lots of power to charge computers, keep the lights on and keep children learning without interruption. Adding solar on school roofs creates not only a teachable moment, but more electric dependability—especially when storage is involved.