Solar panels slated for 36 school roofs in Alberta

The Alberta government plans to install solar panels on three dozen schools around the province as part of its strategy to combat climate change.

Students suggested the idea of using flat roof surfaces to generate electricity from the sun

These solar panels are on Edmonton's Queen Elizabeth High School. The Alberta government is earmarking $9 million for solar installations at dozens more schools in the province. (CBC)

The Alberta government plans to install solar panels on three dozen schools around the province as part of its strategy to combat climate change.

"We all know that climate change is real and it poses a real threat to our kids' future, to my kids' future, but there is good news," Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said, outlining the $9-million project.

"New technologies also present huge opportunities for today's students and those that are going into tomorrow's workforce."

Shannon Phillips, minister responsible for climate change, said new technologies can be opportunities for students. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Phillips said it's about looking forward.

"Installing solar panels on schools is one way our future leaders can learn about energy options that reduce long-term cost and emissions."

The idea of using schools' typically large, flat roofs for solar installations was suggested by students themselves, when the province sought public feedback on its climate change strategy.

Education Minister David Eggen said the province is working with students to find solutions.

"This program today also demonstrates that we are listening to our students who have told us clearly, that they want to be leaders on climate change issues," he said.

Education Minister David Eggen said students pushed for projects like this one. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

"Here at Sir John A. MacDonald, students will be able to track the impact of their solar panels through a smart phone app."

The initiative is voluntary for schools.

Eggen and Phillips announced the plan Wednesday at Sir John A. Macdonald School in Calgary, which already has 40 solar panels on its roof.

The school's assistant principal says so far, it's been a big success.

"With 40 solar panels, Sir John A. Macdonald is generating about five per cent of our own energy," Matthew Armstrong said.

Assistant principal Matthew Armstrong said currently the school is generating about 5 per cent of its energy with 40 installed solar panels. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

"The real time dashboard also provides students and staff with the data that can be manipulated and used in many subject areas. Students are able to view the power currently being generated as well as power generated over time, comparing the savings with other conventional means of energy."

The new funding is available for the installation of solar panels as part of school projects that are now in the planning or design phase.

Students at Sir John A. Macdonald School can monitor the impact of the solar panels with a smart phone app. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)