Launtia Cuff, Gleaner Writer
MALVERN, St Elizabeth:
IN AN effort to limit its overall contribution to climate change, the Hampton School in Malvern, St Elizabeth, is now opting to integrate renewable sources of energy into its electricity supply.
Climate change refers to an increase in the amount of heat that is trapped in the Earth's atmosphere, causing long -term changes in weather patterns at a much faster rate than in the past. Non-renewable sources of energy cause greenhouse gases to be emitted into the atmosphere, contributing to this problem.
A shift in practices can limit climate change, and a switch to renewable sources of energy is one way to do so.
As a result of this, the school decided to use renewable sources of energy, in the form of solar and wind power, to provide electricity for their sixth-form complex. The project was sponsored by the Digicel Foundation at a cost of approximately $1.5 million. In addition, the school also received approximately $4.6 million to provide mobile science labs for grades 10 to 11 science students.
Acting head of the science department, Sandra Bryan-Lord, said in addition to reducing the school's greenhouse gas emission and electricity bill, the new system would serve as a learning tool for the students.
"We have installed 12 solar panels. This will be producing the majority of the power to run the sixth-form complex. We also have a wind-turbine system. The aim of this was to reduce the energy consumption from JPS (Jamaica Public Service Company), and, hence, reduce our light bill, which runs at approximately $1 million.
"Part of our curriculum is to teach girls about renewable energy and climate change. So this system will allow them to see solar energy being used to generate electricity, and wind energy being used [as well]. As far as climate change is concerned, we are trying to stress the need for using renewable energy to avoid the consumption of coal and oil so that we can [decrease] our carbon dioxide emissions and, hence, lead to less global warming. It is mainly targeted at our science students, first to sixth form. However, the examination students, that is CSEC and CAPE students, will be our main targets," Bryan-Lord said.
Bryan-Lord went on to add that the students were eager participants in the installation of the new system.
"At the end of each school day, the students at the initial stage have been given a lecture and a tour of the site while the gentlemen were welding. We didn't want the girls involved in the welding for safety purposes. Once the welding was finished, the ladies started to participate in the actual installation. So they painted part of the framework. They mounted the solar panels, connected cables, did some drilling, wearing the appropriate safety gear, of course, and they did some saudering. We have used fourth to sixth [formers].
"We want to track the progress of our students to see how much of an impact the project has had on them. We also want to extend it as an outreach project to other schools because we have a number of primary schools around us," she told Rural Xpress.
Sixth-form supervisor, Eric McLean, said the project is reaping rewards.
"It is having a positive impact on the students. They are experiencing first-hand how it operates and the benefits that it will provide. They will have a hands-on experience as to how it operates. They are seeing science in motion, not just having book knowledge. They are seeing its application," McLean said.
Rory Sinclair, owner of Green Lantan Energy - Wind and Solar Energy Products, which is responsible for the installation of the system, said although the aim of the system is to run the operations of the entire sixth-form block, the system would automatically switch back to the JPS system if weather conditions are not suitable to generate enough electricity.
In addition to the sources of solar and wind energy, the company also installed motion-sensor light switches in some of the science labs, which would automatically turn the lights off when the labs are empty in an effort to reduce electricity waste.