- The number of schools with solar has increased by 81% since 2014
- More than 5.3 million students attend a school with solar
- 7,332 schools nationwide now utilize solar power, making up 5.5% of all K-12 public and private schools
These statistics tell us that solar energy systems are rapidly becoming commonplace in (and on the roof of) many of our nation’s education centers. Still, with 94.5% of U.S. schools without solar panels, there’s enormous room for growth. The question now is, should more schools go solar? To best answer this we should take a closer look at the impact of solar panels for this first 5.5 % of schools.
Solar Panels for Schools Benefits
As indicated in the Brighter Future 2020 report, which was published in partnership with The Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), there have been four consistent outcomes experienced by our nation’s first solar-powered schools.
1. Energy savings allow for investments in other areas
There’s no question that schools with solar panels are poised to save big on energy costs over the coming years. The report specifically mentions an Arizona school district that’s projected to save $43 million over the next 20 years. The savings are great, but the real impact comes when you consider how that extra money can be spent. New supplies, renovations, and well-deserved pay raises for teachers can all become possible thanks to solar energy savings.
2. Solar panel installs support local economies
Solar panel installations for schools may also provide a positive impact on the surrounding community. When schools go solar, they are likely to use a local panel company for everything from design and engineering to installation and monitoring. This helps bolster local jobs and tax revenue, both of which strengthen local economies.
3. Schools with solar and battery storage can serve as emergency shelters
Along the same lines, schools that add solar energy systems and solar battery storage backup are equipped to serve as emergency shelters during natural disasters or any extended period of power outage within the community. Given the recent natural disaster events all across the country, this could be an immense asset for communities going forward.
4. Students gain hands-on learning opportunities
Last but certainly not least, schools with solar energy systems are able to provide unique hands-on STEM learning opportunities for their students. In addition to job training for careers in the rapidly-growing solar industry, students with access to solar energy technology are able to learn more about developments in science, electronics, engineering, and conservation.
The Bottom Line
The four main outcomes for schools that add commercial solar panel systems all suggest that more K-12 schools, both public and private, should strongly consider making the switch to solar. The impact goes far beyond energy savings, it creates a positive ripple effect throughout the school system and its surrounding community.
Convinced that solar energy is a smart idea for your local school(s)? Take action by rallying support for the idea within your community and then approach the school board with specific reasons why they should consider it.