EDMONTON — The Alberta government is looking to add a little more sunshine to schools across the province by providing $15 million to install more rooftop solar panels at various sites.
The Solar for Schools program provides rebates of up to $1.50 per watt on the solar energy generated to offset the participating school’s energy costs.
The goal of the investment, which comes from the Climate Leadership Plan, is to help schools cut electricity costs and reduce emissions, said a recent news release. The program also has an educational component to help students and teachers expand their knowledge about climate change and renewable energy technology.
“Learning about renewables is just one reason we’re so supportive of solar energy in schools. This is also about building more efficient schools, so more money goes to the classroom and less goes to utility bills,” commented David Eggen, minister of education, in a statement.
Increasing the amount of solar energy generated by schools supports the Alberta’s target of 30 per cent renewable electricity by 2030 by helping the province transition to an electricity system that is cleaner, reliable and more sustainable, the release reads.
The program will be administered by the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, which is a partnership between the province, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and the Rural Municipalities of Alberta.
“We are pleased to help grow clean energy in Alberta schools. In addition to offsetting operational costs, solar installations can be used as living labs by integrating new technology into the curriculum. Schools can also help raise awareness and participation in clean energy solutions in their local community,” said Trina Innes, director of the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre.
Since 2015, Alberta has funded solar installations at 83 schools including new replacement schools and modernized schools. The release also mentions the Energy Efficiency Alberta’s Business Energy Solutions Program which has also supported 84 schools with energy upgrades and retrofits, providing over $800,000 in rebates.
The solar industry has grown by nearly 500 per cent over the last three years, with installed solar capacity rising from six MW in 2015 to 35 MW in 2018, adds the release.