Pupil leads effort to get photo voltaic panels at Athens Drive Magnet Excessive Faculty :: WRAL.com

– What began as a school project has now evolved into a school trip to reduce the use of fossil fuels through solar energy.

Athens Drive Magnet High School is the first school in Wake County to have a solar array system made up of 12 solar panels through NC GreenPower Solar + Schools, a nonprofit scholarship.

Rocco Nociti, a former student, turned his homework into a real-life application of renewable energy. Determined to supply his high school with renewable energy, he applied for the scholarship.

“One of the things that always fascinate me is solar power and renewable energy,” said Nociti. “In the fall of my junior year, my goal was to install solar panels on Athens Drive.”

Now Athens Drive Magnet High School is generating enough energy to power the school’s office.

This year, NC GreenPower will grant 15 schools in North Carolina a grant to install a solar array system on the school premises, plus $ 14,000 in additional benefits and a STEM curriculum with instruction.

“The solar panels were donated to NC GreenPower by one of our partners, SunPower,” said Katie Lebrato, Marketing Communications Director. “These are commercial modules with an efficiency of 20%, which are among the modules with the highest efficiency on the market and are expected to show very little deterioration in the next 20 to 30 years. “

STEM Academy coordinator and science teacher Shane Barry said the students will be able to collect the data generated by the solar array system to better understand the processes of solar energy.

“We actually have data that we could use for analysis,” said Barry. “This is still a new thing. We are working on how we can use this data to do more with the students.”

According to NC GreenPower, the systems prevented 359,803 pounds of coal from being burned, the equivalent of 31 homes being shut down annually.

“For us, part of the reason these installations are so important is that we want them to be supported by the community where the schools are located. We want to start talks about solar energy in schools and tribe education and also show the value of emissions. free energy that is generated every day by the sun, ”said Lebrato.

With a lower solar angle in winter and thick clouds, the sun’s intensity is usually lower in the winter months. According to Lebrato, some schools have on average exceeded original estimates for energy per year.

Due to the location of Athens Drive Magnet High School and the trees around it, the building is not always fully exposed to the sun.

“Because of the prominent locations of our pole-mounted solar systems – we prefer to have them in visible locations near the front of the schools – and the unexpectedly high production of solar energy from the SunPower modules, we averaged about 7,000 to 7,500 kWh and in some schools even more than 8,000 kWh per year, “said Lebrato.

“This is roughly half the amount of electricity a typical house uses in a year, so we equate that with the school main office being potentially powered,” Lebrato said.

In addition, the solar panels cut the school’s electricity bill.

“The total since we received it is approximately $ 282,” said Barry. “This is less than a year old … we don’t even have a tape cut for it because all of this happened within the quarantine period.”

According to Barry, solar energy education will be expanded in the curriculum once students have fully returned to class.

“Like the whole education system right now, it’s more hands-on and personal,” said Barry. “I’m really looking forward to it when you can be here, experience it and understand what it means to have something.” so and have something like that in their physical space with the meter that’s on it. “

As part of the Solar + Schools Grant, NC GreenPower has installed solar panels in 42 other schools across the state. More will follow.

“It was the student interest and drive that really made this possible,” said Barry.

“This is something where I wanted to make a lasting impression, but also wanted a realistic application of sustainable energy in the classroom,” said Nociti.

Applications are accepted until the end of February. Further information on how to apply can be found on the website.

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