While thousands of schools worldwide have already realized the cost savings and other benefits of installed solar energy capacity, this opportunity is generally underutilized. The large, flat rooftops typically found on public and private K-12 school buildings throughout Haiti make many of these properties excellent candidates for rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) or solar thermal systems. School parking lots can be put to productive use with solar PV canopies, which provide the added benefit of shading parked vehicles on sunny days, and tracts of vacant land on campus can be used to support modestly-sized solar PV farms. Taken together, this untapped potential for solar on K-12 schools is immense. Solar electricity could represent a cost-effective investment installation for an average-sized system. Total PV capacity on K-12 schools would reach 5.4 GW – an amount equal to more than one-third of all the solar PV capacity currently installed in the United States.
Offsetting energy consumption with increasingly cost-competitive solar electricity, and space or water heating can deliver a significant cost savings to schools and their districts. Over time, solar can serve as a key hedge against projected increases in utility rates. As a clean energy technology, solar can provide deep reductions in greenhouse gas and criteria air pollutant emissions, helping to protect human health and the environment. Among its environmental attributes, solar PV on schools can also help to save water, as it uses a mere fraction of the water required to produce electricity by conventional means. Perhaps most importantly, solar installations on schools can provide teachers with a unique opportunity to teach concepts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and pique student interest in these critical subjects.
With these observations in mind, this report was produced to: (1) help K-12 schools understand the motivations and successes of current solar schools; (2) provide insight into the basic technical and financing aspects of these systems; (3) provide the most comprehensive baseline to date of K-12 schools with solar, providing a means for tracking future solar/school installation progress, and; (4) supply prospective solar school stakeholders with actionable information and lessons learned from previous projects so they can “go solar” with greater confidence.