Midwest Schools Embrace Solar Energy
A growing number of schools throughout Illinois and the Midwest are starting to embrace solar energy. Thanks to the Illinois Solar Schools program, many K-12 schools are now reducing energy costs while teaching students hands-on lessons in science, technology, math and economics. The program, sponsored by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, promotes the installation of a 1kW solar photovoltaic system at schools and other educational facilities. They also provide online monitoring and real-time data of the solar panel’s energy output, displayed on large screens in the schools’ lobbies, which they use to incorporate into different areas of the teaching curriculum. So far, the program has been implemented in over 400 schools statewide.
Glen Kizer, the field representative for the Illinois Solar Schools program, spoke with Midwest Energy News last month. He noted that early exposure to solar energy helps inspire and prepare students for clean energy jobs in the future. During the interview, Kizer said, “The more people understand the technology, the more likely they are to understand and want to get hired in these particular industries…if you really want to work in solar or wind, there’s a good chance you can get a job, anywhere in the U.S.”
Although a 1kW solar panel does not completely eliminate a school’s electricity bill, the energy savings in the long term far outweigh the upfront costs of equipment and installation. But more significant than this, exposing students to the technology and benefits of solar energy helps guarantee its viability. Regardless of whether these students actually go on to work in the solar energy field, the fact is that renewable energy is becoming more commonplace. Even if these students decide to pursue other professions—such as municipalities, contractors, architecture, construction, etc.—their knowledge and familiarity will encourage future usage of solar energy.
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Illinois Solar and Wind Schools. Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Web. 20 April 2017. http://www.illinoissolarschools.org/
 Lydersen, Kari. “Illinois Kids Get Schooled on Solar.” Midwest Energy News. RE-AMP, 12 April 2017. Web. 20 April 2017. http://midwestenergynews.com/2017/04/13/illinois-kids-get-schooled-on-solar/