Microsoft, SSE Airtricity bring solar panels to Irish schools

Ryan Doran working at Kinsale Community School, Co Cork
Ryan Doran working at Kinsale Community School, Co Cork

Over 15 years, solar panels expected to offset approximately 2.1 million kilograms of harmful C02 emissions

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28 September 2020 | 0

Microsoft Ireland and SSE Airtricity have announced a new renewable energy project to help Irish schools reduce their carbon footprint.

Under the project, 27 schools across Ireland will receive internet-connected rooftop solar panels, giving each school the power to generate enough electricity for 68 Irish homes for a full year.

Over the next 15 years, the solar panels are expected to produce enough clean energy to offset approximately 2.1 million kilograms of harmful C02 emissions.

 

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With investment of allegedly close to €1 million from the Microsoft Sustainability Fund, Microsoft and SSE Airtricity will install and manage internet-connected solar panels, which are connected via Azure IoT to Microsoft Azure.

Through the project, Microsoft and SSE Airtricity intend to prove the viability of distributed energy generation and open the energy saving and carbon reduction potential of rooftop solar across Ireland and beyond.

The software tools aggregate and analyse real-time data on energy generated by the solar panels, demonstrating a mechanism for Microsoft and other corporations to achieve sustainability goals and reduce the carbon footprint of the electric power grid. 

“Collectively we can take a step in the right direction and harness the power of innovative technology to help generate renewable energy and go some way towards offsetting carbon emissions,” said Cathriona Hallahan, managing director, Microsoft Ireland. “Through the installation of solar panels and the new data-driven insights from Microsoft’s Azure cloud, we look forward to enabling sustainable practices inside and outside the school gate. Working together, we hope to open up the energy saving and carbon reduction potential of rooftop solar across Ireland and perhaps one day across the world.”

“This new collaborative project will allow students throughout Ireland to see first-hand how sustainability and renewable energy can combine to help fight climate change while also benefitting their school and community on a daily basis,” added Klair Neenan, managing director of SSE Airtricity.

A key objective of the project is to educate students about the role they can play in combatting climate change. Digital screens have been set up in all 27 schools to enable the students to track energy use in real time and see the impact of the energy efficiency upgrades in their school.

As part of the project, students from the schools will participate in a programme designed to educate and inform young people about the challenges posed by climate change and the role technology can play in creating more sustainable communities across Ireland. Currently in development, the three-part syllabus will cover a range of topics, including renewable energy, sustainability, and technology. The lessons will be delivered through a series of interactive activities and challenges with the aim of bringing sustainability into daily school life.

Kinsale Community School is one of the 27 schools participating in the project and recently received its solar panel installation. Fergal McCarthy, principal, Kinsale Community School said the installation is the product of years long collaboration with Microsoft: “Our school has been working with Microsoft for several years to realise our digital vision. Following a visit to DreamSpace, Microsoft’s innovation and education hub at its campus in Dublin, we went on to create our own version of the experience for our students. Since then we’ve joined the Microsoft Innovative School community and it’s been a great experience for us as a school to open our minds to doing things differently through technology, something which has really stood to us as a skill this year.

“Participation in this project is a natural next step for Kinsale Community School and our students. Its sustainable focus is very important to us not only because it will reduce our costs and carbon footprint but also because it enables us to educate our students about the positive impact that innovative technology is having on our school, as well as the wider Kinsale community. We’re really thrilled to have been selected to participate in this project.”

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