Back to school: Outdoor solar classroom brings savings and learning opportunities to elementary school

published: 2013-08-15 23:09 | editor: | category: News
When students return to school at Holston View Elementary School in Bristol Tennessee this month, they will be greeted by an 80 foot wide canopy that is covered with 200 MAGE SOLAR ACPV modules.
Science teacher turned principal Jerry Poteat initiated discussions with Ecological Energy Solutions , a Tennessee based installer company about an outdoor learning facility that would benefit the students and school educationally and financially. As an extremely experienced and versatile solar design and installation company, Ecological Energy Systems designed, engineered, and installed the canopy consisting of MAGE POWERTEC PLUS 245 W ACPV modules within four weeks.
Nick Safay, Vice President of Operations at Ecological Energy Systems attributes the quick turnaround time of the project in part to the ease with which MAGE SOLAR ACPV modules can be installed. The simple plug-and-play technology ACPV modules with integrated microinverter display, cuts installation time down about 50%, Safay testifies.
In this case, it gives Eco Energy for Schools LLC, the system’s owner, the advantage to generate energy faster and to accelerate the system pay-back period. As panel provider MAGE SOLAR guarantees an industry-leading 30 year power output on its product, the PV system at Holston view will produce an estimated 68,000 kWh annually over the next three decades.
“Once the system has paid for itself, which we predict will be between the next 10 and 15 years, and then the company will donate the solar system to the school system,” Mr. Safay says. “Once [Holston Elementary] own[s] the system, they will be able to substantially lower the amount of money they have to spend on overhead for keeping the school powered.”
For now, Principal Jerry Poteat as well as the staff and faculty at Holston View are ecstatic about the opportunity to provide hands-on learning opportunities via a clean energy curriculum that the school is developing in conjunction with Ecological Energy Systems. In addition, other educational facilities in the area like King University and Virginia Highlands Community College, for example, will be able to use the solar classroom also and benefit from being able to experience “solar in action.”
“It provides a significant amount of clean electricity to the , it’s a learning resource for our students and it is a statement of this community that solar energy is important enough to put our resources behind it and make it work,” Mr. Poteat says.
The City of Bristol, Tennessee, who owns the property and leases it to the system owners together with the Board of Education, has a proven track record as being pioneers of municipal sustainability. Perhaps as part of the legacy that comes with being located in the beautiful landscape of the Tennessee Mountains with its delicate and precious ecosystem, the city accepted the “Green Challenge” in 2009 in order to actively seek opportunities to make Bristol a thriving and green community with a low carbon footprint.
Since then, Bristol has implemented recycling programs, built nature trails, and realized a myriad of environmentally friendly initiatives and procedures from water and waste management to public transportation. Just last year, the city together with Ecological Energy Systems converted of a capped-off landfill into a 200kW power generating energy hub with 819 MAGE POWERTEC PLUS solar PV modules.
MAGE SOLAR CEO and President Joe Thomas expresses how proud he is his company was part of the solar project at Holston Elementary in Bristol: “Solar energy has tremendously much to offer, especially for schools and municipalities looking into sustained savings. In this case, it is especially wonderful that the school will be able to excite and educate young minds on the benefits of clean renewable energy and lay the cornerstones of innovation and sustainability at the same time."
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