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Solar for Educational Institutes

By Siddharth Gangal and Aarushi Dave

What do educational institutes and solar power have in common?

Plenty of things! For starters, they both have a great future ahead and full of blooming potential. On the contrary, the power supplied by the utility grid is going to constantly boom in price. Additionally, the solar industry is on the mission to reform our energy sector to make it cleaner and greener, just like a lot of students would want to do on becoming professionals!

With rapid innovation happening in this field, currently solar installation has become simpler and more feasible than ever before. While this is the right time to invest in solar, there is no place better to make this investment in than a school or college campus!

With this article, we aim to tell why educational institutes, irrespective of where they’re located have a lot of characteristics which make better suited as both communities and infrastructure to host solar facilities.

1. Cut costs:
The biggest advantage of installing solar on an educational campus: savings! Classrooms, auditoriums, laboratories, floodlights; the list is endless. In other words, there is no shortage for the demand of power in a campus!

As time passes, power from the utility grid is going to get costlier. Grid power costs fluctuate with time, mostly incrementing. The best way to counter this is by adopting solar to cater to your campus’ ever-growing demand for power. Once installed, you can either generate your own electricity thereby eliminating dependence on the grid in totality. Or you can trade power via net metering. 

Either way, solar energy is one of the cheapest sources of power available presently and large commercial bids have the lowest prices. In fact, the larger the area of your institute installation, the expenditure per watt of a solar panel drops. This will make your institute indifferent to fossil fuel prices in the future! And more importantly, installing solar is an action which shows you as an institute have gained control over the emissions you make, the power you guzzle and generate.

Once the initial cost of installation is met, which too isn’t particularly challenging anymore thanks to incentives, power is going to be one big expenditure eliminated from you budget. And of course, these savings can be utilized for growing other facilities on campus!

2. Make use of space:
Very often, there is plenty of empty roof space available in schools or university campus buildings. Additionally, this roof space is mostly unshaded with fewer obstacles surrounding it, unlike that in residential areas. These roofs are also sturdy, flat, uniform in composition, at angles more suitable for rays to optimally hit arrays and vast in layout. These features add to output and efficiency of the power generated by the panels. 

Besides, one of the biggest shortfalls of rooftop residential solar installations is the absence of these kind of roof characteristics. Every different roof has its own features in a residential structure and several obstacles around it causing shading. This gives institutes an upper hand compared to residential areas.
Moreover, the roof area largely is unused. It makes good economic sense to put that area to work for you. Solar gives you the power (literally, no pun!) to save money and decrease expenses for your education institute. Solar panels can also be installed on raised structures so that the roof can still be utilized. There might also be space available in the campus grounds for ground mount installation that can be utilized.

3. Hands on learning:
It’s no surprise that the students of today are well aware about the prospects and necessity of solar power! However, these present-day students, who are the professionals of tomorrow, need the exposure to an actual working solar installation.
The best way to achieve this is by installing solar on campus! Be it the technical knowhow regarding the working of a solar system or the installation policies or the project finances, there is a lot to learn! Switching to solar is a big step. Involving the student body will not only smoothen the process, but also prove to be a hands-on learning exposure. 

4. Brand your institute with solar:
With solar emerging as a positive clean energy trend globally, by the joining this wave right now your institute too joins a community of change makers around the world. By fostering solar power in your campus, you show your dedication to cutting down emission levels and fossil fuel consumption.

Adopting solar provides a great marketing opportunity for the institute. It is an indicator of your sustainability practices as well as consideration for environment friendly policy. Presently, these are key criterion in judging how progressive the institute is. It will give your institute the “green edge” indicating the all-round consideration for campus facilities and unique endeavour on your part.

Additionally, adopting solar creates a positive impact on prospective students and employees.

5.  Attract prospective students and staff:
Educational institutes adopting solar are appreciated for their green factor and goodwill is created in the minds of the students, their parents and new prospects for the educational institutes. They tend to stand out as compared to other colleges/schools for taking up this responsible and creative step.
While on the lookout for an educational institute, most parents and students these days very conscious, thanks to awareness and competitiveness. When they search for the best place for their ward/ themselves, your institute stands apart thanks to a captivating and progressive approach! 

Not just students, the “green effect” could also put your institute in positive light before prospective teaching, research and administrating staff.

6. Availability of permanent infrastructure:
One of the reasons most home owners are yet shy of adopting solar is fear of making a long-term commitment. Although there exist financial tools to make it easier for them to move out after adopting solar, installations are a significant investment with a life of 2025 years.
As discussed earlier in context with roof space, institutes have advantages compared to residential areas when it comes to solar installations. Another advantageous feature is the existence of permanent infrastructure. Most school and university campus areas have existed or while continue to exist for the next couple of decades. The problems of rent, moving out etc do no arise here.

7. Several financing options present:
Worried about the expenditure? Thankfully, there is a plethora of financial options available for financing solar projects in an educational institute!
Universities can opt for purchase with cash or loan options as well. Educational institutes are given priority for subsidy under various government schemes. Subsidy up-to 30% can be availed from the government.
As it stands, educational institutes such as universities and schools have little risk of credit default and hence are considered safe for solar leasing companies to invest. Hence, educational institutes can go for zero upfront payment solar leases which translate.
The Solar Labs listed installers will do the paperwork for you and give you a seamless transition to solar!

8. Foster goodwill among the student body
What better place for the younger generation to take steps to transition to a better world than at their schools/ colleges!
It is not new for the students of today to have heard about how disastrous Global Warming can be. By installing solar, the institute can help it’s students and employees
take steps to cutting down their carbon footprint. As an institute, together you will be doing your bit for bring a difference to our world!
While your students are being nurtured for becoming capable professionals and responsible adults, installing solar on campus will create really positive impact on your students. It’ll make them realise the potential of renewable resources such as solar power at an early age. This realisation will help them a long way through adulthood for both taking great decisions as a green citizen as well as saving financially through clean energy. 

Given below are some examples of schools and colleges which have actually taken initiative to install solar on their campus:

Schools:

1. Canadian International School- Bangalore

2. Sri Aurobindo Centre for Education – Pondicherry

3. Vidya Mandir School- Chennai

Colleges:

1. IIT R/K/B

2. BKPS College of Architecture- Pune

3. Manipal University – Manipal

4. Fergusson College – Pune

While we hope that this article has shed light on advantages of solar for educational institutes, we are also optimistic that you will go ahead and consider it! Now is a better time than ever for investing in solar and getting suitable returns for step, and watch your wards grow with the rising trend!  

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