Solar Power Systems Educate Students, Reduce Costs for Schools and Provide Emergency Power
COCOA, July 14, 2011 – Nearly 100 Florida schools will be soaking up solar rays to power their buildings this fall thanks to the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC).
FSEC, a University of Central Florida research institute, is providing each school with a 10-kilowatt, solar photovoltaic (PV) system valued at more than $80,000. These systems allow schools to capture the sun’s rays and turn them into energy to help reduce electricity costs, and they also serve as generators during a power outage. Installation of the systems – under way now – will reduce energy costs by up to $1,500 a year and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
Each ground-mounted, 1000-square-foot PV system is capable of providing enough power to run a small appliance like a fridge, overhead lighting or series of electrical outlets.
Schools are getting the systems through the SunSmart Schools E-Shelter program, which was created with a $10 million stimulus grant. A leader in solar energy research, FSEC is coordinating the program and providing educational materials for teachers to use with students, as well as training for school faculty and staff.
“Having these photovoltaic systems in plain view on the school campuses is that first step in raising awareness about this important renewable energy technology,” said Susan Schleith, FSEC project manager for the SunSmart program. “And when a student, parent or teacher asks, ‘What is that and what does it do?,’ that’s when the learning begins.”
Schools receiving the systems are from around the state and include elementary, middle and high schools as well as one college. They were selected to take part in the program based on their status as an emergency shelter, demographics, and their renewable energy education and outreach plans.
Each PV system is connected to the utility electric grid, supplements the school’s electricity during normal operations and keeps a bank of back-up batteries charged. In the event the school is being used as a shelter and there’s an electrical outage, the system powers critical items in the shelter, using the back-up batteries when the sun isn’t shining.
For classroom learning, the system also functions as a learning resource, allowing students and teachers to see how much energy their system is producing, study the relationship between the environment and the PV system and explore the basics of electricity.
At the Academy of Natural Resources at Island Coast High School in Cape Coral, Fla., students take classes in subjects such as environmental science, solar energy and aquaculture. Science teacher Cherie Sukovich says the system will increase students’ understanding of how weather and other environmental factors play a role in capturing the sun’s rays.
“It gives us a very concrete, real-world way to show them an abstract concept,” she said.
Vergona-Bowersox Electric Inc., of Boca Raton, is installing the solar systems at the schools and will finish by 2012.
Following is the list of participating schools. For more information about the program, visit www.fsec.ucf.edu/go/sunsmart.
|Avon Elementary||Avon Park||Highlands|
|Boynton Beach Community High||Boynton Beach||Palm Beach|
|W. R. Tolar K-8||Bristol||Liberty|
|Island Coast High||Cape Coral||Lee|
|Brevard Community College||Cocoa||Brevard|
|Endeavour Elementary Magnet||Cocoa||Brevard|
|Champion Elementary||Daytona Beach||Volusia|
|Atlantic Community High||Delray Beach||Palm Beach|
|Pine Ridge High||Deltona||Volusia|
|Ronald W. Reagan-Doral Senior High||Doral||Miami-Dade|
|Oak Hammock Middle||Fort Myers||Lee|
|Fruitland Park Elementary||Fruitland Park||Lake|
|C.A. Moore Elementary||Ft. Pierce||St. Lucie|
|Haines City Senior High||Haines City||Polk|
|East Gadsden High||Havana||Gadsden|
|Hialeah Gardens Senior High||Hialeah Gardens||Miami-Dade|
|South Dade Senior High||Homestead||Miami-Dade|
|Eden Park Elementary||Immokalee||Collier|
|Abess Park Elementary||Jacksonville||Duval|
|Chets Creek Elementary||Jacksonville||Duval|
|LaVilla School of the Arts||Jacksonville||Duval|
|Key West High||Key West||Monroe|
|Dr. NE Roberts Elementary||Lakeland||Polk|
|A. Crawford Mosley High||Lynn Haven||Bay|
|Madison County Central||Madison||Madison|
|Robert Morgan Education Center||Miami||Miami-Dade|
|South Miami Senior||Miami||Miami-Dade|
|Avalon Middle||Milton||Santa Rosa|
|Bennett C. Russell Elementary||Milton||Santa Rosa|
|Jefferson County Middle High||Monticello||Jefferson|
|River Ridge Middle High||New Port Richey||Pasco|
|Atwater Elementary||North Port||Sarasota|
|Hammett Bowen Jr. Elementary||Ocala||Marion|
|East River High||Orlando||Orange|
|Palm Beach Gardens Community High||Palm Beach Gardens||Palm Beach|
|Cedar Grove Elementary||Panama City||Bay|
|Jinks Middle||Panama City||Bay|
|R. C. Lipscomb Elementary||Pensacola||Escambia|
|Taylor County Elementary||Perry||Taylor|
|T. Dewitt High||Pierson||Volusia|
|Knights Elementary||Plant City||Hillsborough|
|Kingsway Elementary||Port Charlotte||Charlotte|
|Bayshore Elementary||Port St. Lucie||St. Lucie|
|John M. Sexton Elementary||Saint Petersburg||Pinellas|
|Sebastian River High||Sebastian||Indian River|
|Explorer K-8||Spring Hill||Hernando|
|St. Cloud Elementary||St. Cloud||Osceola|
|Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Elementary||St. Petersburg||Pinellas|
|Fairmount Park Elementary||St. Petersburg||Pinellas|
|Port Salerno Elementary||Stuart||Martin|
|Oslo Middle||Vero Beach||Indian River|
|Wiregrass Ranch High||Wesley Chapel||Pasco|
|West Gate Elementary||West Palm Beach||Palm Beach|
The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research institute in the nation. Current divisions and their research activities include Advanced Energy Research: alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel and fuel cells; Buildings Research: energy-efficient buildings; and Solar Energy: solar water and pool heating and solar electric and distributed generation systems. For more information about the center, visit http://www.floridaenergycenter.org or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at 321-638-1015.
UCF Stands For Opportunity
The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the 2nd largest in the nation with more than 56,000 students. UCF’s first classes were offered in 1968. The university offers impressive academic and research environments that power the region’s economic development. UCF’s culture of opportunity is driven by our diversity, Orlando environment, history of entrepreneurship and our youth, relevance and energy. For more information visit .