For most people, solar panels are synonymous with residential and commercial use. People put solar panels on their homes to cover electric bills, and augment their commercial buildings to draw new business and “go green.” But what happens when solar panels are added to the layout of schools or universities? Today, solar panel installations in schools are becoming more popular.
As it does, it’s decreasing the environmental impact of these institutions and making them greener and more eco-friendly. In many cases, eco-friendly universities may also see increased enrollment and greater interest levels across the student base.
Thanks to these perks, it’s a trend solar installers, students, teachers, and citizens alike can expect to see much more of.
Why Should my School go Solar? 5 Smart Reasons
Solar panels for schools have many benefits. In addition to decreasing an institution’s carbon footprint, solar panels also generate a great deal of power. Here are a few of the most significant benefits of solar panels for schools:
1. Solar Panels Work Well on Most University Roofs
Most residential homes have pitched roofs, which can make adding solar panels difficult. Universities and schools, on the other hand, typically have flat, expansive roofs made of materials that are ideal for solar panel installation.
In addition to providing plenty of open, unshaded space for solar panels to work to their highest potential, these roofs are also unlikely to feature sensitive materials, like wood shingles, which can make solar installation more challenging. Since roof angle and material have a major impact on the effectiveness of solar arrays, this is excellent news for any college or university that wants to install panels.
2. Solar Power Will Reduce Operating Costs for the School
Electric prices have risen over the past ten years. Because they use a great deal of electricity, schools and universities have been some of the primary victims of these price hikes.
Fortunately, solar power is a free source of energy, found in abundance throughout the world, and advanced technology and skilled installers have made it even more accessible for institutions.
In fact, colleges and universities have access to some of the least expensive (in terms of cost-per-watt) systems available. As systems get larger, their cost per watt price falls. This means colleges and universities can enjoy affordable power without the guessing game of the grid.
3. Solar Power Could Help Boost Enrollment
Solar power is cutting-edge and attractive to eco-minded students, teachers, and supporters. As such, a college or university that installs a solar panel system could easily see an increase in enrollment.
This is especially true in competitive areas, where having solar panels on a building could be the factor that distinguishes one university from its competitors in the eyes of potential enrollees.
When modern students choose schools, many of them look for options that offer environmentally-conscious practices, renewable power, and eco-friendly facilities. As such, some colleges and universities have even established Sustainability Offices designed to drive the institution’s green initiatives forward.
When these things all come together at a single institution, it’s easy for that school to gain a reputation for innovativeness and creativity. Not only do solar panels produce energy, but they also stand out as a unique social and cultural symbol.
4. Solar Power Provides Unlimited and Reliable Energy
For universities, schools, and residences alike, solar power systems offer a dependable source of unlimited energy. While fossil fuels are a finite source of energy, solar power is not. Designed to work on cloudy days, in part sun, and even in wintery environments, solar panels can generate a significant amount of power for universities and schools that install them.
5. Solar Arrays at Colleges Helps Drive Solar Power Forward
To invest in solar panels, people need to see them at work, first. Since universities are busy public places, campuses that install solar panels do the important work of driving the solar industry forward by providing greater exposure for solar arrays. This is especially true for universities that install large, campus-powering systems.
Unless people have the opportunity to see solar panels at work, they can feel relatively strange and alien. Luckily, students, faculty, and visitors who come into contact with solar panels on university campuses have the opportunity to learn how the arrays work. This helps familiarize people with the panels and, hopefully, inspire them to invest in solar energy on their own accords.
What About Solar Panels for School Grants?
When residential owners want to install solar panels on their homes, they’re eligible for grants from the federal government to help cover the cost. Luckily, the same is true for colleges and universities. Today, there are many different federal programs available to schools that want to install solar arrays.
For example, the Department of Energy introduced the SunShot Initiative in 2011, which supports research and development surrounding solar energy, and establishes projects designed to reduce the cost of obtaining it. In fact, the initiative’s primary goal has been to make the price of solar energy comparable to that of fossil fuel-based electricity by 2020.
Programs like these can go a long way toward offsetting the price of solar installation for schools and universities and making them that much more accessible for establishments that are interested in exploring them.
The Future of University Solar Installs Looks Bright
Today, colleges and universities have a great deal to gain when it comes to the installation of solar panels. Ideal for reducing energy bills and cutting costs associated with powering a school’s facilities, solar panels are an eco-friendly addition that can also have wide-reaching social and cultural impacts, and companies like Sandbar Solar are installing more and more of them.
When students see a university taking steps to go green and reduce their carbon footprint, it could easily impact the student’s attendance decision and result in higher enrollment numbers for the school.
What’s more, since tax rebates and credits are available for schools that want to install solar panels, it’s an affordable option that will pay off down the road.