Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stimulus Grant Gets 73 Utah Schools Solar Panels

Solar panels atop schools statewide will soon capture energy from the sun to fuel computers, classrooms and students’ imaginations.

Thanks to a $3 million federal stimulus grant given to the Utah Energy Program, solar panels will be installed in every school district in the state, at 73 Utah schools in all. Students will be able to track online how many kilowatt hours of energy their solar photovoltaic arrays generate, and teachers at the schools will receive training to teach students about solar, wind and geothermal technologies.

Officials at Johnson Controls, which is designing and installing the panels as part of the program, estimate that, all together, the panels will remove more than 8,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over 20 years, a figure equivalent to the carbon offset that would be generated by planting 11,000 trees and letting them grow for 10 years.

The panels will likely power the equivalent of a few classrooms per school, and are part of a larger effort to decrease the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, keep Americans employed and educate kids, said Gilbert Sperling, a senior adviser at the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Everybody who drives by this school, everybody who comes to this school is going to see those solar panels,” Sperling said of Hillside Middle School in Salt Lake City, the first school in the state to have the panels installed under the program. “They’re going to take a look at this and say, ‘You know, this is what we ought to be doing.’ ”

Sperling and others on Monday visited Hillside, which is also certified LEED silver, meaning it has met certain environmental standards as a building.

Hillside students marveled Monday at a set of giant, gleaming black solar panels displayed in the auditorium. The panels will be installed at other schools in coming months, and a handful of Utah schools already have panels outside of the grant program.

“I think it’s amazing,” said eighth-grader Maxwell Wilson. “I feel proud to be able to go to a school that has solar panels.”


1 comment:

Carol said...

What was the cost of the battery banks and how many did each school use.