Dominion Energy to expand solar education program
Dominion Energy announced Thursday that five K-12 schools and a children’s museum have been selected to participate in its Solar for Students program.
Formerly called Solar for Schools, the program will install a solar array outside the participating schools, giving students a hands-on experience to learn about solar energy. The program was launched in 2015 with four schools.
The Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation will invest $150,000 to fund the installations at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center, the Children’s Museum of Richmond, Deer Park Elementary School in Newport News, Hampton High School, Kenmore Middle School in Arlington County and the MathScience Innovation Center in Henrico.
Each panel is a 1.2-kilowatt photovoltaic system that converts sunlight into electric power, enough to power 18 computers on a sunny day. In addition to the panel, each school will receive an LED display that is mounted somewhere inside the school. Students and teachers will be able to see how much electricity has been generated as well as challenge other schools using a web portal connected to the device.
With clean energy and STEM education programs growing in popularity, the project aims to create effective networks of students, educators and businesses to promote an energy conscious society.
The NEED Project (National Energy Education Development) will continue to administer the program, providing technical support, coordinating the installation of solar panels and training teachers.
The NEED project will perform the actual installations during the 2017-2018 school year, while Sigora Solar, the largest and fastest growing solar design company in Virginia, is responsible for manufacturing the solar panels.
“On one hand you’ve got this visible reminder with the solar panel, but now you’re actually seeing tangible results and how it all fits into a broader picture,” senior communications specialist of Dominion Energy, Rayhan Daudani, said in an interview.
Dominion is currently growing its solar portfolio. The company says it has spent nearly $1 billion in solar projects since 2015 and currently has more than a dozen projects underway. The company wants to bring 5,200 megawatts online by 2042, or enough to power 1.3 million homes.
“STEM education is essential, it challenges our students and inspires our students and provides them with the foundational knowledge they need to pursue additional education and training as they continue down their academic path. I appreciate you all continuing to encourage our students to take part in STEM education and know that you have an administration that believes in you and believes in what you do,” Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent said Thursday during a press conference at the Children’s Museum of Richmond’s downtown location.