Earlier this month SunPower Corp. announced SunPower Solar Science Academy, a week-long program for for K-12 students being offered first in California and soon in Arizona. The program will help students learn about solar from a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) point of view. The academy comes as SunPower announced solar will help save schools in California save $1.5 billion in electricity costs over the next 30 years, money that can be reinvested into the schools to keep more teachers or invest in infrastructure as needed.
Already at least one school district in California has installed solar on all of its schools, according to SunPower Managing Director Bill Kelly. “The Mount Diablo Unified School District has installed solar at each of their (51) schools, aiming to reduce the electric bill at every campus by 90 percent,” he said. SunPower installed all the systems for the district. Click here for a video about the project.
While SunPower has launched these projects in California and Arizona, it’s looking to implement such projects in school districts across the U.S. “With a focus on those states with the public policies that support distributed renewable generation,” Kelly said.
The money being saved by lowering the school’s electric bill in California is significant. “Typically, the second highest expenditure in a school district’s general fund is electricity. The savings delivered by using on-site solar allows districts to use the money they would have spent on electricity for other items in the general fund, such as teachers’ salaries and valuable supplies and programs,” Kelly said. “At the Mount Diablo Unified School District…more than $3 million in savings are expected each year—resulting in $220 million in savings over the next 30 years, which can be reinvested in school staff and programs.”
To help students and inspire students about solar power, SunPower offering the academy program. “The programs blend lectures and field trips with problem-solving discussions and hands-on practical laboratory applications, culminating in industry-juried student presentations. The Solar Science Academy is designed to spark, sustain and deepen students’ interest in STEM and develop and expand students’ understanding of STEM-connected careers,” Kelly said.
“Most, but not all, have solar power systems at their schools. For those that do not have solar at their school, we are arranging for field trips to schools that do have SunPower solar systems,” Kelly said. “It’s been an amazing success so far, with more than 160 students participating,” he said.