Jamaican schools urged to use more solar energy
Director of business development at Standard Solar John Finnerty says solar systems have environmental, educational, entrepreneurial and community investment benefits. (Photo: Brittny Hutchinson)

CALIFORNIA, United States — Director of business development at Standard Solar, John Finnerty is encouraging Jamaica to install more solar energy and renewable energy systems in schools for sustainability.

Speaking here after his session, 'Implementation: Solar in schools movement' during the renewable energy conference, RE+, on Tuesday, he said solar systems have environmental, educational, entrepreneurial and community investment benefits.

"It is a great place to implement solar. I think the more it gets implemented in the Caribbean, the better — especially because electricity costs are so high," he told Jamaican journalists.

"There are a lot of financial tools available, and the market is really adopting itself perfectly for schools," he added.

So far, Finnerty said, there is a high demand for solar energy systems in United States schools.

"There is so much demand right now from students, teachers and parents [who are] all looking to make their schools more sustainable, and the administrators are seeing the big value in financial savings in their budgets," he said.

Referring to a recent article in The New York Times which said public schools are increasingly using savings from implementing solar energy usage to upgrade facilities, help their communities, and give teachers raises, Finnerty said he was impressed.

"They are delivering real cash values to the school districts where they are able to convert those savings to bonuses for teachers. There is a really good cycle that's happening," he said.

"The time is now, the demand is there. It is unique. The schools are recognising, they are seeing what's happening, and globally there are institutions that have been signing up for big, clean energy buys. You can't even open your e-mail today without seeing a new transaction of a big entity signing up for large-scale renewables," he added.

Finnerty also referred to a recent study, Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in US K-12 Schools, by Generation 180, a non-profit organisation that advocates for clean energy.

Data from the study show that from New Jersey to California, almost one in 10 K-12 public and private schools across the country were using solar energy by early 2022, which was twice as many schools doing so in 2015.

Meanwhile, in Jamaica, 30 secondary schools across the island were expected to benefit from a pilot project aiming to reduce electricity costs by 40 to 70 per cent and increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources by March this year.

The 'Schools Energy Efficiency and Solar Pilot Project' is expected to be implemented through the Ministry of Education and Youth, the National Education Trust, and Canada-based renewable energy company, Roswall Development Inc.

Under the project, schools would be retrofitted with LED lighting, inverter air conditioning units, solar photovoltaic systems, among other solutions.

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