It's Friday, and in my books, that means it's time to feel good. Let's set aside the doom-and-gloom stories for a moment and focus on some good news!
Exciting news today about a project that will not only generate clean electricity and fix broken school roofs, but potentially also teach tens of thousands of kids about the value of renewable energy: the Toronto District School Board has signed a deal with AMP Solar Group Inc. to build, install, and maintain solar panels on up to 450 school rooftops or 12 million square feet of roof space.
Incredibly, AMP will be responsible for all project costs, presumably because they will generate a lot of additional business through this deal - if my child attended one of these schools I'd turn to AMP for solar panels on my own roof! Not only will the TDSB avoid the huge expense associated with a project of this size, but they will also gain $120 million worth of roof repairs and generate $1.1 billion in clean, renewable energy over the next 20 years.
That translates into 58 - 66 megawatts of electricity per year, which could power 6,000 homes! This energy could be sold into the local grid, 14.5% of which would be used by the schools themselves. As electricity rates continue to rise, the TDSB will be able to use the money it saves to support programs that benefit the students directly, whether academic, athletic, or extra-curricular, and this is the message I hope they get across to the kids: green power makes environmental and economic sense! Building roofs are unproductive spaces with the potential to generate electricity (or grow food, but that's another post) that could help so many people without compromising anyone's health. When students see this first hand on their own school roofs and learn to value it, I have some hope for the next generation!
Would you like to see solar panels on school roofs in your area? Are there any downsides to this plan?
Photo of solar panels used under Creative Commons from Kevin T. Houle (kevinthoule/flickr).