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Solar energy is a renewable energy source that will never run out. When solar energy is harnessed, it can be used to generate usable electricity through solar panels, or to generate heat through solar thermal systems. For more information on solar energy please see our Ultimate Guide to Solar Energy, this guide will give you all the information you need regarding solar energy. In this guide we will discuss how solar energy can be integrated into schools specifically.
Within the UK, integrating sustainable practices into our lives is becoming imperative, and this is the same for within our schools. As we become increasingly sustainable, our green future will begin to rely much more heavily on solar energy. As we become more environmentally conscious, our schools, throughout the UK, need to begin educating themselves and their students on the importance of solar energy whilst also taking on a role of responsibility for our planet. Adopting solar energy usage into our schools can help to do this.
We cannot overstate how important it is that schools begin to embrace the use of renewable energy sources, including solar energy. As we all work towards preventing climate change, adopting solar energy systems can be a simple way for schools to do their part. Especially as these systems produce clean energy that is inexhaustible, and that will overall help a school to reduce its carbon footprint. By integrating solar energy into schools, we are not only beginning to mitigate against the school’s environmental impact through their energy consumption, but we are also encouraging the students to have an increased appreciation for sustainability and eco-friendly practices.
Schools that opt for cleaner and renewable energy sources can prove that they are advocating for a greener future for the generations to come that they will teach and inspire. We hope that this guide will encourage educational institutions to begin their sustainability journey through solar energy applications.
UK schools, when choosing to integrate solar technologies, are not only lowering their carbon footprint and mitigating climate change, but they also act as educational beacons to younger generations as they teach them the benefits of sustainable practices, by setting the example themselves.
Two of the main ways solar energy can help schools become greener and more energy efficient are solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar thermal systems.
Integrating one, or both, of these technologies into a school can show students the importance of renewable energy. These technologies can act as an invaluable learning opportunity, that encourages students to understand how these technologies work, as well as what makes them sustainable and important for mitigating climate change. All of this will prepare them for a more sustainable future.
UK schools that integrate solar energy into their electrical and heating systems will begin to notice a number of benefits. Firstly, there are many environmental benefits, as schools will see a significant reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions.
Unlike traditional energy sources, such as fossil fuels (which includes coal, natural gas, and oil), the use of solar energy is a clean and green process. The process releases no harmful byproducts, which helps to combat climate change, as fossil fuels are one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Swapping to a solar energy system allows schools to align with global efforts to prevent climate change, whilst encouraging their students to have a sense of responsibility for the environment around them.
Schools that utilise solar energy can also benefit from economic advantages. The initial investment for a solar energy system can be expensive, as it can include the equipment, labour, and installation costs. However, the long-term savings will be worth the initial price. Solar PV systems have a low operating cost, and once they have been installed, they begin to produce electricity without the need for extra fuel costs. Maintaining the panels is also low cost, which helps to keep any potential further expenses to a minimum.
This will then result in lower overall energy bills, which can ultimately free up funds for other essential resources, such as educational programs and any improvements that need to be made to the school’s infrastructure. Switching to solar energy can help a school to become more financially resilient, which can contribute to the broader economic sustainability of the education sector as a whole.
Significant social impacts can be benefitted from by a school that adopts solar energy. By reducing their reliance on non-renewables, schools can show that they are embracing a sustainable energy model. This means that they are showing that they are actively participating in shaping a future that is less dependent on fossil fuels and more dependent on cleaner, renewable energy sources. This will not only contribute to energy security, it will also set an amazing example to each and every student within that school. Helping to show the students the importance of resource conservation and the transition to a cleaner and more sustainable future. Schools will then see this influence spread into the wider community as their students adopt a culture of responsible energy consumption outside of school and set an example for others.
The benefits of integrating solar energy use into a school does not just fall into the environmental benefits, which includes the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and the economic benefits including cost savings. This energy type can also help each student to begin their transformative journey towards a greener and more sustainable future, helping them to become stewards for the safety of the planet.
In order to make sure your school’s journey towards transitioning to solar energy adoption is seamless, you need to make sure you understand the installation and maintenance processes.
In order for a solar energy system, such as solar panels, to be installed successfully, whoever is installing the system needs to ensure it will run at its highest efficiency, harness the maximum solar potential, and carry this out for the long term.
First of all, you will need to hire a professional to carry out a site assessment. Here at Going Green we offer a free site assessment, which involves evaluating the space you have on your school’s roof for a potential roof mounted system or the available land for a potential ground mounted system. We also check solar exposure, shading, potential obstructions, and the structural integrity of the specified building. Once the location has been selected and checked, the installation team can check whether you require any necessary permits or permissions for the system to be legally installed.
The installation then requires the solar panels to be mounted onto a structurally sound framework, they are then connected to an inverter for conversion from DC electricity to usable AC electricity, and then finally the system is integrated into the school’s electrical grid.
Using a solar energy system can face minor challenges such as low energy production during the night or during periods of little sunlight. There are, however, solutions and technologies in place to increase the systems efficiency. First of all, you can install your solar energy system as a Grid-Connected System. Which will draw energy from the electrical grid when energy is not being produced or is being produced at a low level. Or alternatively, the cleaner option, you can invest in a solar battery which will store any access electricity generated to be used for later use.
To ensure that the best practices and safety standards are adhered to, we recommend our installation team.
To ensure that the solar energy system is working with a consistent performance and longevity, regular maintenance needs to be carried out. Regular cleaning of the solar panels is a fundamental task to ensure that dirt, dust, and debris does not build up on the panels, as this can hinder sunlight absorption. Make sure that during inspections, physical damage, loose connections, and signs of wear are checked for. Any of these issues can lower a system’s reliability. We encourage you to establish routine inspection schedules and collaborate with a professional who can conduct periodic assessments.
It is recommended that you also use monitoring software that can help you to track the energy being produced and will notify you promptly if it detects any issues.
Schools that integrate solar energy into their school curriculum will advance their students environmental literacy, as well as creating a holistic understanding of sustainability across many different subjects, including science, technology, engineering, and maths. This can help students to take part in practical applications that will help them deal with real world problems by offering them a wider range of opportunities.
In regards to science, solar energy can provide context for physics and environmental science lessons. Students can learn about the principles of how a solar panel works, including the photovoltaic cells, inverters, and the many layers that make up the panels. They can also learn how all of these components convert sunlight into usable electricity. These concepts can be brought to life through hands on experiments and demonstrations that can help students to understand the physics of sustainable energy sources.
Students can use maths to engage in calculations related to solar energy production, such as determining solar panel efficiency and analysing consumption patterns. This can help to show how maths can work in real world scenarios, in order to understand the practical applications of renewable energy sources.
Solar energy can be incorporated into geography lessons by exploring the global distribution of sunlight and how this impacts energy potential within different countries around the world. Students can also investigate how different geographical locations influence the effectiveness of solar panels, whilst also studying case studies of regions that have successfully harnessed solar power to generate electricity and heating.
There are many other educational activities and projects that can increase a student’s understanding of the importance of solar energy. These can include building small-scale models, building solar powered gadgets, or even conducting an energy audit to figure out how energy efficient their school is.
By implementing solar energy into the curriculum, educators can equip their students with the knowledge they need to understand the importance of renewable energy, whilst also nurturing critical thinking, problem solving, and real-world skills. This knowledge also makes your students active participants in shaping a sustainable and greener future, allowing them to understand the evolving global landscape and how to protect it from the effects of climate change.
Integrating solar energy projects into schools can allow the community and educational outreach initiatives that are centred around solar energy projects to play an important role in creating a culture of sustainability and shared environmental responsibility. By actively involving students and the broader community in these solar initiatives, schools are helping to make a greener future and meaningful opportunities for hands on learning, whilst building awareness for the planet.
Schools can actively engage students in solar projects by organising practical workshops in which students help to plan, install, and maintain a solar energy system. This can help to instil a sense of ownership and pride around sustainability and the practices that come with being sustainable. It also allows students to gain practical skills, including understanding technology, learning about project management, and working as a team.
These projects can extend beyond the school and into the wider community. This is because solar projects can incorporate local residents, businesses, and organisations to make them successful. Projects such as community solar installations can benefit the students, in terms of learning, and local residents, who will benefit from the renewable energy source. By working with a wider network, including local stakeholders, schools will be able to get access to further resources and expertise.
Schools can host workshops for both the students and the local community to inform them about the importance of solar energy. These workshops will allow schools to invite experts that will be able to share their insight into the renewable energy source, whilst carrying out demonstrations, and answering any questions. These workshops will not only allow those attending to discuss solar energy but will allow them to have a space to discuss other sustainable matters and environmental issues.
Students can also get involved in community awareness campaigns, that can increase the awareness of solar energy use throughout the wider community, whilst also encouraging the adoption of further sustainable practices.
Schools can also work together, to increase the success through collaboration, which will create a network of environmentally conscious educational institutions. This will help to produce a sustainable interconnected community on a much larger scale.
Ensuring that the deployment and maintenance of solar panel installations on schools are safe is paramount. Both the technical aspects of the installation and the well-being of the students must be carefully considered. Comprehensive safety protocols are needed to make sure risks are avoided and a beneficial environment is created, in order to prevent compromising the safety of the students, staff members, and visitors to the school.
Any personnel involved with the installation and maintenance must receive training, therefore we recommend you get in touch with us at Going Green to carry out your installation and maintenance needs.
This is because the professionals you hire must understand the electrical safety practices, must be fine with working at heights, and should be trained in handling photovoltaic (PV) equipment. Our team make sure to regularly check for updates to the industry safety standards and guidelines to ensure that the solar panels we install are in line with the latest best practices.
The guidelines for keeping your students safe is also crucial. Therefore, protective barriers and warning signs must be put in place to prevent any unauthorised access to areas that contain the solar equipment. Schools must work alongside these guidelines by incorporating solar safety awareness into their school programs to educate their students on the potential hazards associated with a solar installation, and why it is important to respect the warnings for the safety zones.
Schools must also have an emergency response plan, which should outline the procedures that should take place if an incident occurs. This should include protocols for addressing electrical malfunctions, fires, or any other potential threat to safety.
For safety reasons, regular checks to the solar installation should be made. Make sure scheduled inspections are booked with a certified technician who will be able to quickly identify any issues or any potential issues before they can escalate. This is a preventative approach that can ensure the system stays efficient and mitigate against potential risks due to wear and tear.
Integrating sustainable practices into a school’s ethos is vital to allow students to become responsible global citizens and stewards of the planet and the environment around them. Further to the adoption of a solar energy installation, incorporating sustainable practices into schools can lead to a number of benefits, including helping to shape a greener future with a new generation that are ecologically aware.
Schools act as a microcosm, or a small community, within a broader community, that can influence attitudes, behaviours, and values. If a school embraces sustainable practices, it can encourage students to have a deep appreciation for environmental responsibility and sense of stewardship that can reach further than a classroom. This can prepare students, both academically and ethically, to enter our ever changing world that is transitioning to become cleaner and more renewable.
Encouraging green initiatives, including solar energy projects or sustainable practices, can help to amplify the effects of a school’s sustainability efforts. Other initiatives can include waste reduction programs, conservation measures, eco-friendly transportation policies, composting, recycling programs, and creating a school garden for growing flowers, fruit, and vegetables. Each of these projects can provide hands on experiences for students, as well as allowing them to gain an education on sustainable living practices. Incorporating several green initiatives can show students that being environmentally conscious isn’t just a standalone concept, it is made up of several factors.
By carrying out these initiatives, schools can become catalysts for change, that can inspire a broader cultural shift throughout the wider community to create sustainability. Making them a beacon of sustainability in their community that is imperative to create a resilient and responsible future.
Schools and colleges, across England, can take advantage of the £500 million fund the UK Government has put aside to accommodate energy efficiency upgrades. This money has been set aside to assist schools with their winter utility costs and manage their energy consumption much more effectively.
These funds are not only expected to create cost savings for schools, but also increase their energy efficiency during the colder months. This will help schools and colleges to be more resilient when it comes to future winters.
The UK Government has released preliminary estimates that state the average amounts each school type will receive. Primary schools can receive an average of £16,000, secondary schools can receive around £42,000, and further education colleges can receive around £290,000. This money can be used for several energy efficiency improvements, including installing advanced heating controls, insulation, and energy efficient lighting.
This initiative is part of the government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which is set to run until spring 2024. The scheme has been specifically designed to support both schools and colleges during the winter months.
This is not the only funding available, as the Autumn Statement claims that there is an additional £2 billion being allocated to schools over the next few years. This funding will be distributed to the mainstream schools and areas of high need, as well as an extra £400 million being allocated to local councils to support children with special educational needs or disabilities.
Academies, maintained mainstream schools, and special schools are set to receive a funding boost from April 2024.
This means that there is an approximate 5% increase of funding for each student in mainstream school in the next financial year when compared the funding each student received during the 2022/23 financial year.
This funding has been put in place to address energy efficiency within schools, whilst also empowering school and college leaders to make sustainable changes within their educational institutions.
There is also new guidance to aid schools in increasing their energy efficiency, reducing their carbon emissions, enhancing their sustainability, and increasing their resilience. This funding also supplements the £1.8 billion that was put aside for improving the condition of school buildings. The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme has invested £1.4 billion into improving the condition of public sector buildings within the next three years, which includes improving schools and colleges.