An east Ottawa high school is turning to a renewable energy group as a teaching tool and for a new source of fundraising.

Collège Catholique Samuel-Genest will be installing a 75-kilowatt solar panel system on its roof in collaboration with the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op, or OREC.

Grade 9 science teacher Josee Batista, who also runs Samuel Genest’s environment club for students, said the project will give a hands-on look at solar energy.

“Part of the curriculum is a unit in physics on electricity,” she said.

“There will be a screen in the hallway of the school, (students) will be able to see the data of us producing electricity with our solar panel so I think that will bring a lot of excitement for the students, we’ll be able to use that data for resolving problems in class… probably some students will be using the solar panels for their science fair projects.” 

First of its kind for high school, co-op

OREC said the project, billed as the first of its kind in Ottawa, will feed energy back into the grid for the school along with nearby buildings.

The co-op’s operations manager Janice Ashworth said how the energy is shared will depend on the timing.

“If the school is needing power when the school is shining, then those electrons will come back into the school and be used there, if not they’ll be sent back into the grid to be used by the neighbours,” she said.

It will also earn money for the school for the next 20 years, which is the length of the contract.

Batista said the school board has eight other solar panel projects on elementary schools, but this is the first on a high school and the first to use a co-op.

OREC in 2nd round of sales

OREC works by selling shares in solar projects to anyone living in Ottawa and is in its second round of sales, having raised nearly a million dollars to set up six projects in the first round last summer.

They said they’ve already received around $400,000 during the second round.

“We’re hoping for this project in particular, the teachers, students and parents of Samuel Genest high school will be interested in becoming members of the co-operative and having a very direct engagement with that system on the roof,” Ashworth said.

The school and OREC are hosting an information session Thursday night from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at 704 Carson’s Road, in the school’s cafeteria.

Ashworth said the system will be installed in March.