There are approximately 5,000 to 6,000 school buildings in the US State of Ohio and under legislation to be introduced next week, 25% of schools will be required to install rooftop solar panels in order to reduce mains grid electricity consumption and stimulate the state’s green energy industry. The state currently only has around 50 schools with grid connect solar power systems installed.
Under the plan, financiers would pay for and and install the solar panels while benefiting from a 35 percent federal tax credit. School districts would then use money saved on their electric bill to pay back the difference over 30 years.
The Ohio plan differs from many other solar school initiatives in place around the world. In Germany, investors rent space on school roofs and public buildings to install grid connect solar power arrays. Germany’s generous gross feed in tariff program make such arrangements quite lucrative for both school and investor.
Probably one of the most generous initiatives in the world is the Australian Government’s National Solar Schools Program (NSSP). The program allows a grant of up to $50,000 for just about every school in Australia to install a grid connect solar power system. In the case of dual campuses, funding of up to $100,000 may be granted. To date, over 3,800 schools throughout the nation have registered for the NSSP.
School buildings are excellent candidates for mini-solar farms given their extensive roof space. Schools not only benefit from reduced power costs by installing systems, but also demonstrate good environmental stewardship through decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and setting an excellent example to the wider community. Having a solar power system on campus also provides opportunities for a hands-on renewable energy educational experience for students.