My Solar School Contest Resources

Below you will find information that may be useful in creating your Solar Study and Short Video, but it is not required that these materials be used in your submission. 



Information on Solar Photovoltaics

The links below may help answer some of the following questions:

  1. How is the sun utilized as a source of energy?
  2. What are the variables that may affect the output of a solar photovoltaic panel?
  3. Why is solar power important to your team, your school community, and the world? 
  4. What are advantages of generating electricity on a building site?
  5. What are the benefits of implementing solar at your school? 

Information on Solar Photovoltaics – Links
Go Solar Guide from Solar United Neighbors
Solar in US Schools study from the Solar Energy Industries Association



Feasibility Analysis Tools

The links below may help answer some of the following questions:

  1. How much power does your team hope to produce? 
  2. What is an amount of solar electric power that is attainable but ambitious?
  3. How does this amount relate to your school’s energy consumption?
  4. What kind of panels/mounting system would you propose?
  5. Where would the array be located?
  6. What kind of building permit(s) would be required?
  7. How much would a system cost?
  8. How have other schools financed (paid for) systems in the past?

Feasibility Analysis Tools - Links

  • Google Project Sunroof 
    • Get a rough estimate of the solar resource and potential energy savings available with rooftop solar panels at almost any location in the world
    • PVWatts is a solar calculator that estimates the energy production and cost of photovoltaic (PV) systems throughout the world. Just type in an address and some parameters of your system, and PVWatts will give you energy production and monetary value of that energy for every month over a representative year.
  • System Advisor Model by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory 
    • “The System Advisor Model (SAM) is a performance and financial model designed to facilitate decision making for people involved in the renewable energy industry” - i.e., you! SAM can help you calculate your target power goals for your array based on accurate weather models for all around the globe.
    • This tool is free for download here. Although there is a steep learning curve, there are many resources to help you:
  • Sketchup
    • Sketchup can be used to create a physical 3D model of your school or building
    • The Skelion plugin allows for solar to be designed in Sketchup and integrated into building models - this is especially important for rooftop solar arrays
    • Both Sketchup and the Skelion plugin have free versions



Community Involvement

The links below may help answer some of the following questions:

  1. What local or regional companies would be helpful in this process (who could do the work)?
  2. What school administrators/staff are involved in the decision to implement a solar photovoltaic array at our school? Consider:
    • Teacher-Sponsor
    • School Principal
    • School Building/Facility Manager
    • School Business Manager
    • Superintendent
  3. How can community members help us push this project forward?

Community Involvement Tools - Links

  • Solar Schools initiative from Generation 180
    • Find resources and case studies for school communities



Creating Your Video

These guidelines will help you create an effective, engaging video:

  • Show your vision! 
    • How will solar be incorporated into your school, and how would that look?
    • How would having solar be beneficial to you, your school, and your community?
  • Get specific: 
    • How much power would your array produce? How much of the school’s energy needs does that account for? Giving the solar output as a percent of school’s energy needs is a great way to put the numbers into context.
    • What would these panels look like, and where would they be located at the school?
  • Keep it concise. Videos should be less than 5 minutes long. Any longer than that, and it becomes less likely potential donors will watch the whole video.
  • Feature real people. A campaign is most effective when people feel connected to the people behind it. Feature real people involved in the project, which could include students, teachers, or community members.
  • Visuals go a long way. Show how the school looks, where solar would go, or even how your school would look once your project is completed.
  • Be creative! This is your project and your chance to show that your project would be doing great work for your school, your community, and the environment. Get creative and have fun

Other Resources


News  |  September 26, 2017
Given that the fastest-growing job in the U.S. between 2012 and 2016 was solar photovoltaic installer, and that 2016’s fastest growing job was wind energy technician, today’s students must be prepared to be the future leaders of our clean energy economy.