Ontario High School Students Bring Solar Energy to Class

Bear Creek Secondary School (Bear Creek) in Barrie, Ontario, is set to expand its rooftop solar installation.  The school held a fundraising dinner last month to raise money for its Apollo Project, an initiative designed to earn revenue and educate students about renewable energy.  Staff and students participating in the project have so far installed 2 kW worth of panels on the roof, which have already generated $2,000 from the 2,300 kW the school has sold to the Ontario Power Authority through its micro feed-in tariff program (microFIT).

The microFIT pays high prices, up to 80.2 cents per kW-hour, to producers of renewable energy who tie approved projects of 10 kW and less to the electrical grid.  The microFIT’s companion program, the FIT, deals with larger projects.  Bear Creek physics teacher, Marty Lancaster, expects that, when finished, the Apollo Project installation will generate $8,000 each year and operate at 10 kW capacity.  The school will soon add nine panels to the existing twelve and hopes to eventually bring the number up to fifty.

Between classes, Bear Creek students can view solar energy generation first-hand through a display case inside the school that contains an inverter and a meter that shows the energy generated by the first twelve panels.  The next nine panels will each connect to individual inverters, which allow for greater versatility and will give students an opportunity to see a variety of technologies at work.  The remaining twenty-nine panels will use thin-film technology, which performs well under snow and are an asset during Ontario’s long winters.

MicroFIT Solar Project Helps Prepare Students for Future

Students from Bear Creek’s woodworking, fashion, and culinary classes participated in the fundraising dinner.  The event, referred to as a “café forum,” featured a meal with organic and locally-produced ingredients.  Organizers held a silent auction and attendees also enjoyed a presentation of The Inconvenient Truth by a Grade Nine student from another school.

The money the Apollo Project’s solar installation generates will go towards the school’s environmental programs.  The project’s primary goal is to engage students and increase their awareness of the environment and new possibilities.  The message is loud and clear.  “I want to make a difference,” says Sowad Alam, a student in the school’s grade twelve class.  “I want to make a positive change to the community.”

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