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​Solar Schools – Supporting Communities

Solar Schools is a New Zealand initiative which helps schools reduce bills, monitor their savings + provide curriculum modules on solar energy.

Photo of Meena Kadri
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I'm pretty proud that here in New Zealand we derive over 70% of our electricity from renewable energy (primarily hydro, wind and geothermal) – with our more recent forays into wind energy expected to push this rate up even further over the next 20 years.

Earlier this year, Solar Schools launched a crowdfunding initiative to fund a 60 panel solar system at a local school. The Solar Schools programme helps get solar panels onto school roofs by reducing or eliminating the up-front cost. They use hybrid investment approaches such a corporate fund matching, crowdsourcing, subsidised loans and more. They also provide training modules for teachers keen to help their students learn more about solar power. They even have a solar savings meter which gives an indication to schools of how much money they could save by switching to solar power.

"The technology is a viable option for New Zealand schools to produce power and feed it back to the grid, particularly over the long summer holiday periods, " mentions a local school principal.  Read more

How might umbrella organisations help communities offset the upfront costs of switching to renewable energy?

How might digital tools help communities predict their savings from switching to renewable energy?

How might community initiatives for renewable energy be transformed into learning opportunities for students?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Aaryaman Singhal

Hi Meena,

I think another important aspect of the solar school is its ability to change the way the next generation thinks about energy usage as your third question suggests.

If renewable energy is installed in certain locations in a community, maybe schools could take field trips to these sites to learn about wind, solar.

Photo of DiemTien Le

I agree with you Aaryaman that this can change the outlook of the next generation.

It'd be awesome to get to the point where renewable energy becomes the "norm" for these children so that when they grow up, they will use renewable energy because it is what they are most comfortable with.

Photo of Meena Kadri

We're lucky in New Zealand, as renewables kind of are the norm so most kids learn a lot about them at school and have access to visit facilities together. But yes – would be great to think about how this might work in other countries. Do you know about renewables learning at school level where either of you live?

Photo of Sarah Kearney

Meena, one organization that has developed educational programs for middle school and high school students where I live in Massachusetts is Green Schools: I particularly love their National Green Schools Society, which is a National Honor Society for students that spend a significant amount of time learning about and enacting a renewable project in their own community. Amazing! Let me know if the OpenIDEO team would like to speak to Green Schools' founder, Robin Organ.