As part of its Climate Leadership Plan, the Alberta Government is making funding available for the installation of solar panels at 36 school projects that are now in the planning or design phase and have not gone to tender.
“We have heard directly from students from across Alberta and their message is clear – they want us to be leaders on climate change,” said David Eggen, Minister of Education. “A number of school boards had already been asking about the possibility of installing these panels and we are pleased to be able to partner with them to invest in our public infrastructure.”
The total investment in these installations will be at least $9 million and there will be more discussion about the projects with school boards. The government will also establish a committee to evaluate the impact of the installations with a goal of expanding the program over time.
“Climate change is real. Albertans are ready to take action because ignoring the problem is not a solution,” said Shannon Phillips, Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office. “Installing solar panels on schools is one way our future leaders can learn about energy options that reduce long-term cost and emissions.”
Putting solar panels on schools was a recommendation made by students to the Alberta government as a way to demonstrate leadership on tackling climate change.
The province will also provide funds to enable schools installing solar systems to add an educational component to the installation and operation by, for example, letting students use an app to follow power generated by solar and to highlight the potential for solar power in reducing greenhouse gasses.
This is a voluntary initiative. Alberta Education will be contacting school authorities to discuss modifying the scope of their projects to incorporate the panels. On Wednesday, both Ministers Eggen and Phillips visited Sir John A. Macdonald School in Calgary, where there already are 40 panels on the roof.
Costs would vary by project, but estimates average approximately $250,000 to $750,000 per school for a solar panel array, depending on the size of the school, the size of array installed and local site conditions.