Students at Fort Francis High School (Fort High) in Fort Francis, Ontario will soon benefit from a new 116 kW solar energy installation. The system will afford pupils hands-on opportunities to learn about renewable energy, and it will also aid their training indirectly since the system will generat
Students at Fort Francis High School (Fort High) in Fort Francis, Ontario will soon benefit from a new 116 kW solar energy installation. The system will afford pupils hands-on opportunities to learn about renewable energy, and it will also aid their training indirectly since the system will generate revenue for the Rainy River District School Board through Ontario's feed-in tariff (FIT) program.
Fort Francis is a town of around 8,000 people, located in north-western Ontario near its border with Minnesota, USA. The public school board started generating solar energy at the end of December with a 5.4 kW system at JW Walker School. This system was funded by Ontario's Green Schools Pilot Initiative, the Ontario Solar Thermal Heating Incentive, and Echo Energy Canada, an energy company with offices in Toronto and Kindardine, Ontario. The provincial Renewable Energy Funding for Schools program will pay the $1.2 million that Fort High requires for its system. Combined, the two systems will earn roughly $110,000 each year for the school board.
Early Solar Training Boosts Renewable Energy Careers
The board expects to complete its Fort High installation by the end of August. Next year's students "will have access to all the live data, all the weather data, all the actual energy that's being produced by the systems," says Rainy River District School Board's Manager of Plant Operations, Raymond Roy, "so they'll be able to monitor that and just see how it all works. "
Early solar energy training will benefit Ontario's renewable energy industry and give it a competitive edge in an area in which it has already gained tremendous momentum. In just over a year, Ontario's FIT, along with institutions like Ontario Solar Academy that train today's workers for tomorrow's green energy careers, has enabled the market to develop rapidly, and Fort High is among several schools in the province to go solar. For his part, Roy is enthusiastic about the move. "We're going to have a clean energy source, we're obviously going to have lower utility bills," he says. "There's a revenue side to the solar projects."
With its school solar projects, the town of Fort Francis and its public school board will add to the list of institutions, businesses, and individuals who earn revenue while doing their parts to help the environment.