‘Solar in Schools’ pilot programme launched in partnership with the Himachal Pradesh Council for Science, Technology and Environment (HIMCOSTE)
Himachal Pradesh has huge solar potential – the initiative aims to harness this
Shimla, September 6, 2019: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the New Delhi-based research and advocacy body, has launched a special initiative calledSolar in Schools in Shimla in partnership with the Himachal Pradesh Council for Science, Technology and Environment (HIMCOSTE). The initiative was launched here today at a workshop to sensitise teachers about the use of renewable energy.
According to Ranjita Menon, programme director of CSE’s Environment Education Unit, “Solar in Schoolswould aim to bring about a change in the way energy is consumed in schools.More importantly, it would try to enhance the understanding of energy management amongst students and the need to transition to cleaner energy alternatives with lower environmental impacts.”
The initiative is being piloted through CSE’s Green Schools Programme (GSP) (see below for details), which has been working closely with HIMCOSTE since 2012 to promote ecological literacy in schools. The Himachal Pradesh GSP-CM’s Trophy instituted in 2016 recognises schoolsthat have brought about change in their management and consumption of resources in their premises.
Says Menon: “Schools depend on conventional sources to meet their energy requirements, but a shift to renewable energy will go a long way in providing both environmental and economic benefits.”Some schools that are part of the GSP network have adopted alternate sources of energy such as solar roof top (SRT) systems or using bio-pellets in place of LPG, but these are few and far between.
The GSP 2018 environmental audit of 1,700 schools revealed that only 13 per cent of schools operate on solar energy. In Himachal Pradesh, of the 114 schools that participated in the GSP Audit 2018, only 16 claimed to have installed solar energy systems. Many of the schools were burning biomass or wood (mainly for cooking mid-day meals).
According to CSE’s “The State of Renewable Energy in India”, India’s focus has mostly been on commercial and industrial solar installations. Residential consumers account for less than 20 per cent of the total installed capacity, while data available for installations in educational institutions is negligible and scarce. Menon points out that “to develop a strategy and roadmap for adoption of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy alternatives such as SRT in schools, there is a need for a central data bank on energy consumption in educational institutions, including use of solar energy, practice of net metering, estimation of the rooftop area available for solar panels, assessing institutional demands for electricity, etc.”
CSE researchers say that Himachal Pradesh has huge solar potential, though estimations vary widely. The National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) puts it at 34 GW, while IREDA has estimated a potential of about 53 GW. Decentralised generation from solar is more efficient and easy to access as in the hills, grid reliability is a constraint due to geographical, topographical and climate variability.  Himachal Pradesh is also one of the 11 special category states that can claim 70 per cent of the project cost as Central Financial Assistance under the National Solar Mission, making it viable for schools.
Solar in Schools will be piloted first in Shimla, and will be rolled out in phases. The participating schools will submit an energy audit of their schools to identify the sources of energy used. For schools where solar panels have already been installed, additional questions have been included to enhance the students’ understanding of the value of the solar installations.
The Shimla pilot is a step towards addressing the existing gaps-- the learnings from the pilot will help develop a model renewable energy awareness campaign among schools, with the potential to upscale at a national level.Menon says that the initiative will also provide a unique educational opportunity for students to learn about technologies that have ecological benefits.
The Green Schools Programme
The Green Schools Programme was launched to initiate and strengthen the tools of ecological literacy in schools. Its key initiative, the GSP environmental audit, provides teachers and students the methodology to audit the resource consumption in schools and supports schools to transition to greener infrastructure and practices.
The GSP network has a national footprint: more than 3,000 schools across all states have carried out a rigorous audit on environmental practices within their own premises, following a set of activities and tasks. The programme has been able to bring about measurable practice changes in schools – such as increase in water table, reduced electricity bills through energy conservation and gradual shift to renewable energy, 100 per cent segregation of waste at source, increased green cover, move to sustainable modes of transport, etc.
For further details, please contact:
Programme Manager, Environment Education Unit, CSE