Here Comes The Sun
We are up and running! The installation of our solar panel array is finally complete. Close to 374 photovoltaic modules are “currently” collecting the sun’s energy and converting it to electricity that is then used by the staff and students at WillowWood to deliver and receive an amazing education. That same solar energy also powered the laptop that was used to write this blog.
Why Did We Install Them?
Financial, cultural, and environmental reasons. Generating our own power will allow WillowWood to be more cost-efficient in the future, but it will take many years for the panels to actually pay for themselves.
The more immediate impact will be the effect this has on our culture at WillowWood. For years we have strived to make the school more environmentally friendly, and we have aimed to pass that mission on to our students. Past initiatives include the elimination of plastic water bottles from our cafeteria, the installation of water filling stations to encourage the use of refillable bottles, and the promotion of our recycling programs. But this one is the cherry on top. The upfront financial investment shows that we are serious about climate change – right now.
In the future, we will be sharing the daily carbon emissions saved and the amount of electricity generated with our students (see diagram below). They will be able to gauge the effect of various weather conditions, time of day, and time of year on energy production. As a Science teacher, I plan on using our shiny, new panels to discuss topics in Science 10; solar radiation and solar activity in the Weather and Climate unit; electromagnetic radiation and reflection in the Optics unit. Students in my Biology 11 class will be able to compare the use of solar energy by photosynthetic organisms to humanity’s use of photovoltaic cells. Electricity (and electrons) are also studied by students taking Science 9, Chemistry 11, Physics 11, and Physics 12. The potential learning applications are numerous, to say the least. What a win for WillowWood!