Thu | Oct 6, 2022

Schools urged to tap solar power for big savings

Published:Thursday | September 22, 2022 | 12:10 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
John Finnerty, director of Standard Solar Inc.
John Finnerty, director of Standard Solar Inc.

ANAHEIM, California: “The time is now!” That was the call to action issued by Standard Solar Inc Director John Finnerty for increased implementation of solar in schools at North America’s largest renewable energy event, RE+, on Tuesday. In the...

ANAHEIM, California:

“The time is now!”

That was the call to action issued by Standard Solar Inc Director John Finnerty for increased implementation of solar in schools at North America’s largest renewable energy event, RE+, on Tuesday.

In the United States, nearly one in 10 schools from the kindergarten to grade 12 level has solar-power systems and some six million students attend a solar school.

California heads the list of states for cumulative solar capacity with 703,507kW, followed by New Jersey and Arizona.

Finnerty said the roofs of school buildings and parking lots are prime areas for harnessing solar power and urged school administrators globally to tap in as “the cost of doing nothing is huge”.

“In the US, there is so much demand from the students and teachers and parents all looking to make their schools more sustainable,, and the administrators are seeing the big value in financial savings to their budget,” he said.

Jamaica’s education ministry signed an energy savings performance contract in March 2022, which will see 30 secondary schools benefiting from a pilot project, which aims to reduce electricity costs by 40 to 70 per cent.

“It’s a great place to implement solar, and I think the more it gets implemented in the Caribbean, the better, especially because electricity costs are so high. There are lots of financial tools available, and the market has really adapted itself perfectly for schools,” Finnerty told The Gleaner in a post-presentation interview.

The Schools Energy Efficiency and Solar Pilot Project is also expected to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources.

Under the project, Jamaican schools will be retrofitted with LED lighting, inverter air-conditioning units, and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, among other solutions.

Meanwhile, Finnerty encouraged school administrators to explore a variety of financing options, including loans, bonds, grants, donations, government funds, third-party ownership, and other solutions.

Providing a breakdown of the financing tools used by US schools, he said 87 per cent of solar capacity installed by K-12 schools is funded through third-party ownership; six per cent by cash, loans, and bonds; and the remaining seven per cent by grants, government funds, and donations.

Finnerty added that renewable energy companies can accelerate the implementation in schools by bringing feasible proposals to school boards and demonstrating their ability to deliver a team of experienced and ready solar-school partners.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com