Bright Future for Solar Power in Alberta Schools

Alberta’s newest solar program will help schools across the province cut electricity costs, reduce emissions and expand environmental knowledge.

Minister Phillips, Minister Eggen, MLA Annie McKitrick and MLA Chris Nielsen join students and faculty from Archbishop O’Leary High School to announce a new solar program for schools.

The Government of Alberta is investing $15 million from the Climate Leadership Plan to install more solar panels on schools.  The Solar for Schools program provides funding to install rooftop solar panels with rebates of up to $1.50 per watt on the solar energy generated to offset the school’s energy costs.

“I can’t think of a better class project than rooftop solar panels. Alberta is as sunny as Rio de Janeiro and the future of solar in this province has never been brighter. Schools have stepped up as enthusiastic partners in our plan to reduce emissions, recognizing that the future will be one where economy goes hand in hand with environment.”

~Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks and Minister responsible for Climate Change

“Across Alberta, students regularly tell me that they want to be leaders in the fight against climate change. Learning about renewables is just one reason we’re so supportive of solar energy in schools. This is also about building more efficient schools, so more money goes to the classroom and less goes to utility bills.”

~David Eggen, Minister of Education

The Solar for Schools program also includes an educational component, so that students and teachers can learn more about climate change and renewable energy technology.

“We have several schools that have expressed interest in solar panels, and this new program will allow us to access funding for solar technology. Not only do solar panels provide costs savings, they provide excellent teaching opportunities for our students on renewable energy and reducing our carbon footprint.”

~Laura Thibert, board chair, Edmonton Catholic Schools

The Solar for Schools program will be available to public, Catholic, francophone and charter school authorities for schools that have not received Alberta Education’s Solar Technology Systems grants.

The Solar for Schools program will be run by the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, adding to the wide range of existing solar incentives available and helping meet the growing demand from existing schools for solar funding. The solar industry has grown by nearly 500 per cent over the last three years, with installed solar capacity rising from six MW in 2015 to 35 MW in 2018.

“Community schools are the ideal place to model renewable energy generation and energy conservation measures. The Solar for Schools program is an exciting initiative and we applaud the government for taking steps to support energy education at the community level, where all Albertans can benefit. Students can get inspired about the future, and neighbours of all ages can see the technology in action – learning about energy systems and the role each one of us plays in making our communities more sustainable for future generations.”

~Susan Petrina, chair, Solar Society of Alberta

The Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, a partnership between the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and the Rural Municipalities of Alberta, is responsible for funding, technical assistance and education to Alberta municipalities in addressing climate change, and will administer the Solar for Schools program.

“We are pleased to help grow clean energy in Alberta schools. In addition to offsetting operational costs, solar installations can be used as living labs by integrating new technology into the curriculum. Schools can also help raise awareness and participation in clean energy solutions in their local community.”

~Trina Innes, director, Municipal Climate Change Action Centre

Increasing the amount of solar energy generated by schools supports Alberta’s target of 30 per cent renewable electricity by 2030 by helping Alberta transition to an electricity system that is cleaner, reliable and more sustainable. School authorities will be able to apply for grants as of Nov. 28 on the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre’s website.

Quick facts

  • The Government of Alberta has funded solar installations at 83 schools – new schools, replacement schools and school modernizations – across the province since 2015.
  • Decisions to install solar energy systems are made by schools and school authorities.
  • Energy Efficiency Alberta’s Business Energy Solutions Program has also supported 84 schools with energy upgrades and retrofits, providing more than $800,000 in rebates.