The Japanese government recently announced it will install solar power systemsof all its 32,000 public elementary and middle schools by 2020.
According to a report on BusinessGreen, as much as AUD $1.2 billion in funding will be allocated toachieve the ambitious goal and municipalities will only have to contribute 2.5percent of the cost for the systems.
Schools will be supplied with 20kW grid connected rooftop solar systems andaccording to the Japanese Education Ministry, this will provide enough power tolight up to 10 classrooms on a daily basis.
There are currently 1,200 solar schools in Japan and the government aims toincrease that number to 12,000 by 2012, then to the 32,000 target by 2020. Oncethe project is completed, the amount of electricity generated each year by therooftop solar power systems will be equivalent to the power needed to for200,000 Japanese homes.
Closer to home, Australia’s NationalSolar Schools Program (NSSP) is still in operation and according togovernment figures, 4814 schools around Australia have now registered for the NSSP.The program provides schools with grantsof up to $50,000 (ex. GST) to install solarpower and other renewable energy systems. Dual campuses can receive as muchas $100,000 (ex. GST). The systems usually don’t require any major changesto a school’s existing electrical infrastructure.
The benefit to schools from installing solar power systems isn’t confined toreducing electricity bills. The systems can also act as a revenue raiser duringweekends and holidays through feedin tariff arrangements.
The installations provide education opportunities, becoming a tool to help studentslearn about renewable energy, energy efficiency and the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.Solar powered schools also help spark interest in students to perhaps pursue arenewable energy career and provide an important example to the community wherethe school is located in regards to environmental stewardship.