British Columbia

B.C. elementary school goes solar, promising savings and learning opportunity

Students at an elementary school in Saanich are getting an electrifying education in energy consumption and climate change. 

$60K installation to produce 25,000 watts of power

A $60,000, 25,000 watt, solar power project at Torquay Elementary School in Saanich, B.C., hopes to provide learning opportunties and energy savings. (Greater Victoria School District)

Students at an elementary school in Saanich are getting an electrifying education in energy consumption and climate change.

School District 61 has just competed a $60,000 solar power project on the roof of Torquay Elementary that promises to produce up to 25,000 watts of electricity. 

"We are still waiting to connect to the grid and that will be very exciting for everybody at the school and the broader community," said Jordan Watters, the chair of the Greater Victoria School Board.

Speaking to CBC's On The Island with Gregor Craigie, Watters said the project brings the district one step closer to its goal of net-zero energy use. 

She says the district and teachers are just as excited about the learning opportunities now available to students. 

"Climate change and energy consumption is a really critical issue and this provides a very real world opportunity to look at what energy is being used," Watters said. "Our teachers are very creative and I can see them using this, basically, in all aspects of the curriculum from math to science, obviously and all the way around."

Students will be able to monitor the solar panels's electricity production and the school's consumption in real time and across the seasons and years. 

Energy savings expected to cover project costs

Watters can't predict the specific impact the project will have on energy consumption but says that will be part of the school and students' process of discovery and lessons learned.

The solar panels are not powerful enough to satisfy the schools needs, so it is unlikely there will be surplus to transfer or sell to the grid.

But Watters expects reduced electricity bills will cover the cost of the solar panels in the long run.

"If we can make these incremental investments, it will save us money down the road." 

Project costs came from SD61's capital fund, not from school curriculum or operating budgets.