School just got a little cooler in the Sunshine State. Thanks to the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute at the University of Central Florida, 90 Florida schools are getting solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The FSEC announced that each 10-kilowatt (kW) grid-tied system will be equipped with battery back-up to power critical loads during an outage. The systems, valued at $80,000, are also expected to reduce the schools’ energy costs by up to $1,500 a year.
The lucky solar schools, which include a cross-section of elementary, middle and high schools as well as one college, were selected based on their status as an emergency shelter, demographics, and their plans for providing renewable energy education and outreach. The systems will also functions as an educational resource, allowing students and teachers to see how much energy their system is producing, study the relationship between the environment and the PV system and explore the basics of electricity.
The installations are being funded through the FSEC’s SunSmart Schools E-Shelter program, which was created with a $10 million stimulus grant. “Having these photovoltaic systems in plain view on the school campuses is that first step in raising awareness about this important renewable energy technology,” said Susan Schleith, FSEC project manager for the SunSmart program. “And when a student, parent or teacher asks, ‘What is that and what does it do?,’ that’s when the learning begins.”
The systems are currently being installed by Boca Raton-based contractor Vergona-Bowersox Electric, and are expected to be completed by 2012. More information about the SunSmart program and a list of participating schools can be found here.