It may be true that Virginia is currently ranked 17th in the nation for the total amount of installed solar capacity and less than 1% of the energy used in the Commonwealth comes from solar, but you might never guess who or what is an emerging leader in the renewable energy transition in our lovely state. Who’s a leader in Virginia’s solar installations?
They’re some of the most important places in every community, but they are also an unexpected leader in solar installations. That’s right everyone – more solar schools are coming online in Virginia! We reported in late 2017 that Bath County schools had become one of the first schools in Virginia to harness renewable solar energy and the first to rely on solar to power for 100% of their energy needs.
Well, the news keeps getting better and better, as two of the three Middlesex County Public Schools are now powered completely by solar energy. The 1-megawatt system will generate about 1.6 giga-watt hours of renewable energy per year, powering both schools entirely. This amount of energy is enough to power a few hundred American homes, reduce the heat-trapping gas emissions from 255 cars for an entire year, replace nearly 40,000 incandescent lightbulbs to LEDs, or avoid burning over 1 million pounds of coal. Oh, and the new solar array will save the schools nearly 2 million dollars over the next 25 years, all the while training an ever-growing generation of solar workers!
The nonprofit organization, The Solar Foundation, released a report announcing that over 3,700 K-12 schools have now installed solar infrastructure. Big flat roofs on most schools make them excellent candidates to harness this renewable energy. This has a pretty awesome economic impact as well with the average solar school saving about $21,000 per year on their energy bill. That’s enough to buy about 40 new tablets, give salary bumps to a bunch of folks or plan a lot more field trips to awesome science museums, just sayin!
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – looks like solar energy has a bright future in the Commonwealth.