National Geographic’s Solar Energy for Schools: How It Works and What You Need to Know

The concept of renewable energy is one that is slowly but surely permeating the entire world. From the large-scale power stations that provide electricity to millions of homes to the windmills and solar panels that dot the landscapes of developing nations, more and more people are gaining an appreciation for environmentally sustainable and cost-effective alternatives to fossil-fueled power generation.

Why National Geographic?

National Geographic is one of the world’s most trusted and beloved brands, and for good reason. The organization has been committed to science and exploration since its inception, and it shows in every aspect of its work. From award-winning journalism to in-depth feature stories that educate, inspire, and entertain its readers, National Geographic has something for everyone. If you’re interested in renewable energy for schools, this is one place to start your search.

What Is a Renewable Energy Certificate?

A renewable energy certificate (or REC) is an environmentally and financially responsible way to generate electricity, and hundreds of companies, organizations, and governments promote, support, and certify the use of these renewable energy sources. If you generate electricity with an energy source that is certified by an accredited third party, you can sell the associated RECs as part of your power generation quota. For example, if you generate 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity from a windmill in a year, you can sell the corresponding number of RECs to utilities and power companies who commit to purchasing a certain amount of electricity from renewable energy sources. When the time comes to renew your energy source, you can do so without fear of penalty because the certificate represents an investment in renewable energy that will pay off in the future. For more information on this and other topics, please visit the Global Wind Energy Council’s website or contact them directly.

How Is Solar Energy For Schools Different From Other Types Of Renewable Energy?

Although solar energy isn’t actually renewable, it doesn’t come with the same baggage as other types of renewable energy. Because it doesn’t require resources to be continually replaced, it is considered a sustainable source of energy. It is also one of the most popular renewable energy options with schools because it is both practical and aesthetically pleasing. When installed on a school’s roof, the sunlight that used to be blocked by the sloped roofs and thick clouds no longer reaches the ground, which means students and teachers no longer have to worry about spending too much time inside during the day in the summertime when the sun is at its peak. This, in turn, means they can get back out on the playground and in the garden more often, which boosts their mental and physical health. In the wintertime, when the sun is at its lowest, the reverse is true and schools must turn their thermostats up further than usual to keep the building warm. This causes significant energy wastage and also creates discomfort for the students and teachers who have to bear the brunt of it. With the help of specially designed solar panels on the roof, however, all that changed. When the sun is at its peak, the energy it provides is enough to warm the entire building without causing it to overheat, and in the wintertime, the panels allow the school to draw upon the energy that ordinarily would have gone into heating the building to keep it at a tolerable temperature. So instead of being an obstacle that deters students and teachers from getting outside and active, the wintertime in a solar-powered school is transformed into a time for all-year-round learning and growth. This alone makes it one of the most attractive and beneficial renewable energy options available out there.

The Rise Of The Solar Incentive

Over the past decade, states and provinces across North America have enacted solar-specific legislation that provides financial incentives for homeowners, businesses, and schools to install renewable energy systems. Currently, there are over 30 states that have passed such laws. The types of legislation vary from state to state, but they all share one common goal: to provide financial assistance for individuals and organizations to install solar energy systems on their properties. To qualify for these subsidies, homes, businesses, and schools cannot choose to generate their own power through alternative energy sources, such as wind or water power. Instead, they must purchase their electricity from utility companies who give them credit for the energy they produce through photovoltaic (PV) or solar thermal technology.

How Do I Get Started?

If you’re interested in pursuing solar energy for your school, there are a few important things you need to consider first. One of the most crucial elements is financial. While the upfront costs for PV and solar thermal technology are relatively low, the monthly electricity costs can add up quickly. This means that you will need to have adequate financial resources to cover the installation cost and the associated bills. Fortunately, there are several different subsidy and loan programs available to help make the costs of going solar less burdensome. For more information on federal and provincial financing, contact your state or provincial energy department or the federal government directly.

Where Do I Begin?

The first step in the solar energy journey is to select a reputable contractor to handle the installation of your system. You want to work with a company that is expert in both solar and electrical work so that they can take the time to ensure the installation is done correctly and that your system operates at its optimum capacity. Once this is done, you will need to decide how much roof space you have available and where you want to place the panels. You also need to decide whether you want your system to be monochrome (one color only) or fully customizable (can be any two or more colors). Once these factors have been decided, it’s time to secure the funding for the project. With your contractor by your side, the rest is easy – you just have to follow the instructions accurately and diligently and you will see the benefits.

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