Thursday, March 22, 2012

Solar panels power lights, curriculum at Utah schools

Solar power is no longer just a textbook topic for five Utah charter schools. A handful of schools, from North Star Academy in Bluffdale to Quest Academy in West Haven, recently installed solar arrays that power not only their schools, but also their curriculums with real-world examples of green energy.

There is no better example of that mix between education and application than at Quest Academy, where officials installed a 42-inch monitor to measure, in real time, the solar panels’ impact on the school and the environment. The monitor provides data on environmental factors such as CO2 emissions, as well as on the amount of money the school is saving by having its own power source.

So how much energy does Quest Academy’s solar array generate? About 16,800 kilowatt hours of electricity each year. Bonnie Hagen, a grant writer who snagged solar-generation dollars for Quest Academy, said the panels produce enough energy each year to run a refrigerator for 1,000 days or keep a 75-watt light bulb shining for 25 years. Salt Lake Tribune