The Particulars of Installing an On-site Renewable Energy System at Your School - Go the Extra Mile
Before you dive into researching specifics about solar, wind, geothermal, or
biomass energy systems, you should be armed with some basic information that
will help you along the way.
Keep in mind that the right kind of system for your location may ACTUALLY help
you save money in the long run
If you keep in mind that you might be able to save money on electricity or
heating by using an on-site renewable energy source, then you won’t be as apt to
settle for a highly expensive system. On-site renewable energy systems are
often expensive initially because of installation, but you should consider the
long-term benefits of the cheaper than traditional energy source and how long,
precisely, the payback period is. That’s why you should be meticulous
about finding the system that offers the best use of your
local energy sources and uses
the best funding incentives available.
Although overall savings may be humble and can differ quite a bit depending on
the energy source, the
reports that using a direct use geothermal system, for example, can save a
building as much as 80% over traditional fossil fuels!
Upload Knowledge if you haven’t already
You should familiarize yourself with the background technologies and industry of
each of the renewable energy sources you are considering for your school.
It’s especially important to be aware of the pros and cons of each so that you
can be an informed consumer and be ready to ask critical questions of potential
vendors you may work with...
Speak the language
Renewable energy technology is a relatively new industry and not many people are
familiar with all the lingo in the field. Furthermore, the technology is
progressing at such a rapid clip that even people in the field sometimes have
trouble keeping up with all the developments. Therefore, we’ve provided some
resources here to help you with unfamiliar words you may come across:
Ins & outs of your renewable energy’s connection to the grid
The American Institute of
Architects' Sustainability Page is a helpful resource for understanding the
talking points of green architecture and for finding a green architect to help
you with your project.
It’s important to understand what options may be available to your school for
connecting a renewable energy system such as solar or wind to the grid.
Having the renewable energy source connected to the grid can sometimes bypass
the need for an expensive battery system to store your power because any extra
power you produce can flow into the grid for credit, and later when you are not
producing energy, the grid can send power back to you. However, you should
be aware of the different methods for sending excess power to the grid.
Some utilities require an extra meter to measure how much power flows back to
the grid and that power is often purchased by the utility for a much lower rate
than the retail price. But, many states now offer
programs that allow meters to turn backwards when you produce extra
electricity. This offsets electricity bills at retail rates, and you could save
a lot of money as a result. It essentially allows you to bank your excess
energy to be used later on an as-needed basis. Check out
DSIRE’s Net Metering Rules for Renewable Energy
to see what net metering
policies and incentives are in place in your state.
For more information about connecting to the grid, including more on regulatory
policies, check out the Interstate Renewable
. They also offer a
state-by-state table of
allowing users to compare state policies and
voluntary utility programs based on key components, such as eligible
technologies, maximum individual system capacity, application costs, additional
insurance requirements, and other components.