The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi-based research body, recently launched an initiative called ‘Solar in Schools,’ in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.
To highlight the importance of solar energy, CSE in partnership with the Himachal Pradesh Council for Science, Technology, and Environment (HIMCOSTE), held a workshop titled ‘GSP Workshop on Renewable Energy (Solar in Schools) and Solid Waste Management’ in Shimla.
According to the company statement, the initiative was launched to sensitize teachers about the use of renewable energy.
“All the 84 schools who participated in the workshop were encouraged to complete the energy audit and send their entries for the upcoming science fair on solar in school,” said the company spokesperson to Mercom.
Further, she said, “Due to the unavailability of sufficient data on solar installations in schools, it is difficult to say if the institutions have negligible solar installation capacity. Many schools (both government and private) have gone ahead with solar through government subsidies.”
According to Ranjita Menon, program director of CSE’s Environment Education Unit, “Solar in Schools would aim to bring about a change in the way energy is consumed in schools. More importantly, it would try to enhance the understanding of energy management among students and the need to transition to cleaner energy alternatives with lower environmental impacts.”
The program will be rolled out in phases.
“The participating schools will submit an energy audit of their schools to identify the sources of energy used. For schools where solar panels have already been installed, additional questions have been included to enhance the students’ understanding of the value of the solar installations,” states the company.
“Schools depend on conventional sources to meet their energy requirements, but a shift to renewable energy will go a long way in providing both environmental and economic benefits,” Menon added.
The Green Schools Program (GSP) 2018 environmental audit of 1,700 schools (conducted by CSE in partnership with the Himachal Pradesh Council for Science, Technology, and Environment ) revealed that only 13% of schools operate on solar energy. In Himachal Pradesh, of the 114 schools that participated in the GSP Audit 2018, only 16 claimed to have installed solar energy systems. Many of the schools were burning biomass or wood (mainly for cooking mid-day meals).
Some schools that are part of the GSP network have adopted alternate sources of energy such as solar rooftop systems or using bio-pellets in place of LPG, “but these are few and far between.”
Menon pointed out that, “to develop a strategy and roadmap for the adoption of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy alternatives such as SRT in schools, there is a need for a central data bank on energy consumption in educational institutions, including use of solar energy, practice of net metering, estimation of the rooftop area available for solar panels, assessing institutional demands for electricity.”
Of late, numerous schools and educational institutes have adopted solar technology in a bid to become more sustainable and meet their energy requirements, economically.
In August 2019, the Himachal Pradesh Energy Development Agency (HIMURJA) floated tenders for the installation of solar projects at 312 middle schools located in 11 districts of Himachal Pradesh. The tentative cost of the project is ₹110 million (~$1.5 million), and the project is stipulated to be completed within seven months.
Previously, Mercom published an article that analyzed how solar – not coal – is beginning to power classrooms, dormitories and canteens of multitudes of educational institutions across the country.
Image credit: IMCBerea College [CC BY 2.0]
Anjana is a news editor at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, she held roles of senior editor, district correspondent, and sub-editor for The Times of India, Biospectrum and The Sunday Guardian. Before that, she worked at the Deccan Herald and the Asianlite as chief sub-editor and news editor. She has also contributed to The Quint, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Reader’s Digest (UK edition), IndiaSe (Singapore-based magazine) and Asiaville. Anjana holds a Master’s degree in Geography from North Bengal University, and a diploma in mass communication and journalism from Guru Ghasidas University, Bhopal.