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Why not put solar panels on school rooftops?

EoW asks a good question:

As the debate over the Texas GOP’s cuts to public education funding raged, and the summer sun started to heat up, it became apparent that at least one opportunity was being missed. That’s when a question arose, Why don’t we have solar panels on every school building in Texas?

With all the sunshine we get in Texas, especially in the summer, it would stand to reason that all of that sunshine could be harnessed and used to heat, cool, and light the many school buildings across Texas. Likely saving large school districts like Austin and Round Rock millions each year. An opportunity that wasn’t even discussed by the legislature.

He lays out the case for doing this, which you should read. I agree that would make an excellent long-term investment, the sort of thing where spending some money now would save a lot more over time. The capital costs are high enough, and the returns gradual enough, that you’d want to do something else in the short term while getting this done. Fortunately, there’s a pretty simple solution there, one that would get you a decent bang for your buck, and that’s painting the roofs white. Each district could hire a bunch of its high schoolers to do this for a fairly moderate cost. Of course, either of these ideas would require a Legislature that cared about solving problems and not simply slashing expenditures willy-nilly. Sadly, that’s not the kind of Legislature we had.

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3 Comments

  1. Peter Wang says:

    If there were money, it would be best spent on better AC systems, white roofs, not solar. Solar has a poor climate impact per dollar spent compared to other measures.

  2. mary t. says:

    The excuse that it is not cost effective (or in this case, climate/cost-effective) is the argument used for lots of new technology. Why couldn’t the three be used in conjunction with each other? If children and their families see it in use everyday and see the benefits, I think it would make new energy technologies that much more readily adopted on a personal basis.

  3. Linkmeister says:

    Oh, come on. Why not do this? The oil lobby would go ballistic. “How dare you suggest using something other than our products would be better for the environment?”