- According to a study published in a peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters, solar photovoltaic (PV) could be leveraged as a mitigation strategy for the US education sector.
- The study revealed that taking advantage of all viable space for solar panels could allow schools to meet up to 75% of their electricity needs and reduce the education sector’s carbon footprint by as much as 28%.
- The study also suggested that solar panels could help schools unplug from grids fed by natural gas and coal power plants that produce particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides – air pollutants that can contribute to smog and acid rain as well as serious health consequences including heart attacks and reduced lung function.
- According to the study, educational institutions account for 11% of total US building electricity consumption and 14% of building floor space.
- These buildings also contribute to approximately 4% of total US CO2 emissions, thus playing a potentially important role in climate mitigation strategies.
- The research studied the electricity use for 132,000 educational institutions across the US and the electricity generation, greenhouse gas and health-damaging air emissions reductions, and private and social costs and benefits that would result from adopting rooftop solar PV.
- Furthermore, it found that solar PV in US educational institutions could provide 100 TWh of electricity services annually, meeting 75% of these buildings' current electricity consumption.
- The provision of electricity services from rooftop solar PV on educational institutions could reduce health, environmental, and climate change damages.
- The effect of the reduction is valued at roughly $4 billion per year (assuming a social cost of carbon of $40/ton and value of statistical life of $10M in 2018 USD).
- In conclusion, the study found that;
- The private costs of solar for educational institutions still exceed the private benefits from reduced electricity consumption across the entire country (unless a third party operation model is used, in which case some locations can have net-benefits)
- Also, with the exceptions of California and New York, the social health, environmental, and climate change benefits exceed the levels of current incentives provided by the state and retail subsidies.
- The authors are Nichole L Hanus, Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, Parth T Vaishnav, Naїm R Darghouth, and Inês L Azevedo.
Our preliminary research shows that there is not enough scientific evidence (research/study/expert opinions) in the public domain, on the health impact of the installation of solar roofs in schools. Most of the identified reports analyzed the general impact of solar power or the health and safety impacts of solar photovoltaics in general, with no particular reference to students or schools. We also found some articles on the benefits of solar installations to students.