The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

Safety First: Florida's Solar-Powered E-Shelters Enhance Schools Throughout the State

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) – think of it as a solar energy amusement park. Each door reveals a new wonder: solar efficiency labs, hydrogen experimentation, inverter and module testing, controlled environments, and more, much more. But amidst this techie heaven is also a large educational center dedicated to all ages and interests, from kindergarteners learning about solar energy to solar installer training. Local universities are also involved at FSEC, and allow students to take courses for college credit. The facility receives over 15 million in grants and contracts each year, according to Bill Young, a senior research engineer at FSEC.

One of these grants has been allocated to the E-Shleter program as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The E-Shelter program is a facet of FSEC’s SunSmart Program, which has already installed 1-2-kW photovoltaic systems at several schools throughout the state with the help of grants. Schools throughout Florida — elementary through universities — were encouraged to apply for the E-Shelter program. Winners are set to or have already received a 10-kW solar project on their campus.Suitable public schools were determined by their location, status as an Enhanced Hurricane Protection Area emergency shelter and renewable energy educational and outreach programs. A review team ranked the schools on a points system, with each question ranked and scored accordingly based on the following ranges: geographic information up to 25 points, school/shelter information up to 30 points, partnership opportunities up to 20 points, and education interest up to 25 points.

“Schools had to apply and fill out an application asking for what they were doing in terms of education programs, what kinds of things they were going to do with it and who is supporting them,” explained Young. “We had over 250 applications, then we had to whittle it down to 120 and then we still narrowed it down from there.” 

Many of the schools will receive ground-mount installations, the FSEC preferred method of installation, according to its website. These generally require about 2,000 square feet of unobstructed land, usually near the school building. If this type of space is not possible, FSEC will try to utilize a different approach. But regardless of where the system is installed, the battery component is installed in an outdoor enclosure with grid-interactive inverters, supplied by OutBack Power, and electrical components near this structure. 

Each system powers four or five rooms in the school — about 10 lights and two receptacles, depending on the building and its needs. Said Young: “If they lose power and a generator doesn’t come on, then they’ll at least have that much energy and power to get out of the building.”

Schools generally see about $1,500 in savings with the system’s average production at about 10 kilowatts per day based on the measure of Florida’s  $0.11 per kilowatt. 

Once the system is installed, FSEC continues to be involved in education at the sites. “We have three people that focus on education that go out to the E-Shelter sites,” said Young. Through the SumSmart program, FSEC provides materials, such as lesson plans and sample exams, and professional development for teachers, while students also have access to educational materials including the EnergyWiz website, which collects the PV system’s performance data.

The program has already made some great progress, and FSEC hopes it continues. “We have 62 done already and we have about 25 more to go. We’ve got a new contract for another 10, which are being paid for by the utility,” said Young. “They said ‘we’ll do solar,’ so that’s where 10 of the systems are coming from. And next year we’ll be able to do another 10 — for the next five years we’re going to do ten a year.”

RELATED ARTICLES

The Real Price of Free Solar

William Hirshman, International Correspondent

For a technology known for its tranquility and quietness, the noise surrounding PV as solar leasing becomes the driving force for sales is getting uncomfortably shrill — the pitch of sales pitches is rising.

Wind turbines

Why It's Time To Get Real About Energy Security

Hannah Smith, Contributor Energy is Europe’s quiet crisis. While the clamour of failing economies, desperate migrants and political clashes grabs the headlines, energy policy is rarely front-page news, but it should be — the statistics are shocking.

Largest Solar Farm in Virginia Just Commissioned by Amazon Web Services

Renewable Energy World Editors Back in 2012, Amazon received a failing grade from Greenpeace regarding its use of renewable energy to power its cloud centers. Skip a couple years and in 2014 Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced a goal of achievi...

A Closer Look at Fossil and Renewable Energy Subsidies

Susan Kraemer, Contrubutor A new study by the International Monetary Fund puts the total cost of fossil fuel subsidies at approximately $10 million a minute globally, when health costs and environmental degradation are included, never mind the effect...
As associate editor of RenewableEnergyWorld.com, I coordinate and edit feature stories, contributed articles, news stories, opinion pieces and blogs. I also research and write content for RenewableEnergyWorld.com and REW magazine. I manage REW.com...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 3
1505REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Microgrid Global Innovation Forum

Microgrid Global Innovation Forum  This event brings together thoug...

Grid Edge Live

Grid Edge Live 2015 The impressive two and a half day agenda addresses k...

2015 Solar Power International

Stop by and visit Canadian Solar at the 2015 SPI show!

COMPANY BLOGS

Signing a Solar Lease? Here are Five Things You Need to Know

Solar leases have grown in popularity, and they continue to be one of th...

Could Flashing An Unsigned Check Capture A Signed One?

Please take a moment to vote for us! With the funding from this gr...

DIY: Don’t Install Yourself

You finally made the choice to go solar. Seems like it might be pretty e...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS