The Illinois Solar Schools and Illinois Wind Schools Programs, sponsored by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, teach the value of renewable energy and energy efficiency to K-12 students. By turning school buildings into hands-on science experiments, this program makes science fun and teaches students how their everyday actions can positively impact the environment.
The Illinois Solar Schools Program promotes the installation of 1 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at K-12 schools and other educational facilities. Although each system is relatively small, students see first-hand on a daily basis how sunlight is converted to electricity. Schools and other educational institutions reduce their electricity consumption by using a clean renewable fuel that is free. To enhance the educational value of the system, online monitoring to provide real-time data on the amount of electricity generated is included in the grant.
The Illinois Wind Schools Pilot Program launched in 2011 to support the installation of small-scale (1-5 kW) wind turbines at K-12 schools and other educational facilities. For this pilot, applicants are required to be recipients of Illinois Solar Schools grants. The wind turbine will diversify the schools’ energy portfolio as well as the students’ educational experience. They will not only have the opportunity to learn about both wind and solar, but will be able to better understand the relationship between these two energy sources. Every day, the students are able to access data showing energy production through the online monitoring systems included in the grant and available online.
Since the Solar Schools Program's launch in 2006, the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation has awarded over $2,100,000 in grants to over 230 schools to support the installation of 1 kW solar (PV) systems. Annually, each solar school installation will generate about 1,200 kWh of electricity and help avoid 1,350 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions. The Foundation has also supported the installation of six 1-5 kW wind turbines under the Illinois Wind Schools Pilot program. Annually, each turbine will generate approximately 3,200 kWh of electricity and help avoid 3,600 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions.