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basisEnergie – The fundamentals explained in a clear manner

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School children install a PV system [Wentzinger Schulen Freiburg].
© Wentzinger Schulen, Freiburg
To get in touch with Photovoltaics
basisEnergie Nr. 06
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Schools plug into the sun

Photovoltaic systems in schools help save energy and enhance classroom teaching. They shape a school’s image and indicate that energy supply is a future-focused subject. Grants are available to schools wanting to install photovoltaic panels.

Looking to the future, one of the most important social challenges is securing an environmentally sound and sustainable energy supply. This challenge calls for scientific research and technological innovation, which depends on the availability of experts like engineers, tradespeople and scientists. They all rely on cooperation from other specialists in areas like marketing, business and social science.

Interest and motivation to enter into a technical profession is usually sparked at school, where the foundations are laid for later working life. Apart from communicating facts, schools are also responsible for awakening an interest in technology, motivating children and young people to assess risks and opportunities, and enabling them to gather basic practical experience. Photovoltaic systems in schools are a good way of integrating renewable energy technologies into the school curriculum. Access to a system allows school children to deepen their theoretical knowledge, compare meter readings and calculate yields. Monitoring their own electricity consumption and comparing it with the amount of solar energy produced gives them a realistic idea of the ‘value’ of electricity and the level of effort and potential involved in photovoltaics.

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With an expected lifecycle of more than 20 years, photovoltaic systems can benefit many school generations. Schools often showcase their systems at school events and so provide the general public with an ideal opportunity to inform themselves about photovoltaics. Installation of a photovoltaic system often results in the school taking a critical look at its electricity and heating needs to enable energy-saving decisions on ventilation and heat supply. The subject of photovoltaics offers a wide range of opportunities for interdisciplinary work, e.g. communications, geography, and even German and art in designing public relations material. At project schools, the children are often so highly motivated that they make more use of energy-saving opportunities in their private lives as well.
With its Sonne in der Schule (solar energy in schools) scheme, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour(BMWA) awards grants of up to € 3,000 for the installation of photovoltaic systems in schools. More than 300 schools had made use of these grants by April 2000. And there is an added benefit: each kilowatt hour fed into the local grid is remunerated in accordance with the Renewable Energy Act (EEG). For systems put into operation in 2000/2001, that means 45,7 €-Cent per kilowatt hour.

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