October 13 became 'Day 1' … the first day that the Solar PV System at ACS was fully operational and harnessing renewable energy for the school. As the largest solar project installation on a school campus in Lebanon, it will generate up to 25% of the school’s energy needs. The entire project took two years to complete and was made possible through capital planning at ACS and grants from USAID. Local greentech company, YelloBlue, managed the installation and other technical issues for the project including a 'dashboard' that allows individuals to see the energy production and environmental savings in real time.
Not only will the solar panels create new energy, cut costs, and eventually supply excess electricity to the National Grid, students can learn the cost and impact of renewable vs nonrenewable energy. ACS is setting an example for the community, choosing to be green and doing what is better for the environment. “Beyond providing energy for our use, ACS hopes to take the excess energy generated, during weekends and vacation, and give it back to the power grid of Lebanon.” said Head of School, Greg L. MacGilpin, Jr. He further commented “we also will continue to think about how to reduce or revise our energy consumption, teach our students the significance of such efforts, and live lighter, smarter and careful on our earth.” In the future, students will be using the data from the panels in various aspects of their class work.
On the technical side, the project presented a few challenges. First, the roofs that cover more than 2,060 square meters had to be linked together. Since each roof was separated by a public road, more than four kilometers of cables were used to link the 1118 photovoltaic panels. In addition, a water heater is powered by solar energy for gymnasium water; research and development teams from Europe aided in making sure that the three power sources work in a safe, efficient manner.
The link to the electronic dashboard shows the current energy generated and emissions saved. Next steps for the solar project are the installations of monitors for visitors to see output and education programs for all stakeholders to engage.