New solar panels installed at Athens Drive Magnet High School
What started as a student project has now turned into one school's journey to reduce the use of fossil fuels through solar energy.Posted — Updated
Rocco Nociti, a former student, transformed his homework into a real-life application of renewable energy. Determined to get his high school using renewable energy, he applied for the grant.
“One of the things that is always fascinating to me is solar energy and renewable energy,” Nociti said. “Fall of my junior year, I kind of had a goal to get solar panels on Athens Drive.“
This year, NC GreenPower will award 15 schools in North Carolina a grant to install a solar array system on the school's property along with $14,000 in additional benefits and a STEM curriculum with instruction.
STEM Academy Coordinator and science teacher Shane Barry said students are able to collect the data generated from the solar array system to better understand the processes of solar energy.
According to NC GreenPower, the systems prevented 359,803 pounds of coal from burning, the equivalent of taking 31 houses off the grid for a year.
“Due to 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 unexpected high production of solar energy from the SunPower modules, we’ve seen an average of about 7,000 to 7,500 kWh and at some schools, even higher than 8,000 kWh produced annually," Lebrato said.
Additionally, the solar panels have trimmed the school's electric bill.
“So the total since we have gotten it now is about $282," Barry said. "This is less than a year old ... we haven't even have a ribbon cutting for this because all this has happened within quarantine time."
According to Barry, solar energy education will expand in the curriculum once the students fully return to the classroom.
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