Solar Panels for University Buildings
With soaring energy costs, many Universities are facing ever spiralling energy bills when it comes to heating and providing electricity to the many rooms within their buildings. Solar energy is one very affordable option for Universities to consider, paying for itself in a matter of a few years and then continuing to slice the energy bills faced by academic establishments. There are government grants available to offset the costs associated with the installation, and reputable installation companies that are MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) accredited will be able to give advice on the best schemes to use for saving money. Just because many Universities are at their quietest and use the least electricity over the summer months, does not mean that the generation of solar energy at these points in the year is a wasted exercise; there is the ability to sell back the electricity that is not used to the National Grid, generating income to pay for electricity in the months of the year when it is really needed. Of course, there isn't just the potential for buildings to generate their own electricity, as solar panelling is also available for producing hot water.
University buildings cover a whole range of styles and dates, from older period style buildings dating back to early establishments, to modern builds incorporating the latest in style and functionality. Some new build University campuses will already have considered and incorporated aspects of eco-building into their designs, but there are many buildings which have been built over the past few decades which do not yet make the most of solar energy. Nearly all Universities own modern buildings that would be suitable candidates for installing solar panelling. If the building has a good sized area of roof space, it has a wasted potential for using this space to generate solar electricity.
With a number of courses now incorporating modules covering global warming, climate change, the carbon footprint, pollution, and weather changes, to name a few, it is ironic that many Universities seem to side step their own teaching and do not follow their own advice when it comes to green issues. Universities should be leading the way on using renewable energy resources rather than resorting to electricity generated through the burning of gas and coal. Installing solar panels also provides a great resource for all environmental elements of academia.
For now, the greatest potential in many University buildings is within the installation of roof panels to produce solar energy. But as technology is advancing, the future could see public buildings making use of something called 'transparent solar cell technology'. This is still in development, but should be able to make use of glass by using a transparent film coating on windows to generate energy. But to reach that future, Universities still need to address the present needs and make the most of the opportunities available in renewable solar energy.