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According to Forbes Magazine “The recently passed 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is a landmark piece of legislation, but its name is a bit of a red herring.

The $369 billion bill has more to do with reducing carbon emissions than lowering the CPI. In fact, 75% of the spending in the bill is dedicated to slowing climate change and developing alternative sources of energy. Among the bill’s provisions are billions of dollars earmarked for battery manufacturing and development. There’s a good reason for that. To wean the U.S.—and the world—off fossil fuels, we’ll need better ways to store the energy from solar panels and wind turbines for when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.” Home, business or household Batteries are also known collectively as “energy storage systems,” or ESS.

ESS systems are large battery packs capable of capturing and distributing power to homes, businesses, schools, and Industrial buildings. They range from utility-scale installations the size of three football fields to home setups the size of a small refrigerator (Tesla’s Powerwall is a well-known example).Energy cost savings, increased academic and job training opportunities, greater financing options, lower emissions to combat climate change and air pollution, and reliable backup power make solar panels with Energy storage systems a win-win for nearly every school or school district. Solar panels with ESS installed at seven schools in a given community in the continental US would end up offsetting up to 91 percent of electric usage per school, saving them approximately $165,000 a year, and $5 million over 30 years.

There are now 7,332 K-12 schools using solar power nationwide, making up 5.5% of all K-12 public and private schools in the United States and the number doubles every three years. With the average cost of solar at $3.00 per watt as of December 2022, a 3kW solar power system in the US will cost about $9,000. With the federal solar tax credit factored in, the solar system price drops down to about $6,300. The cost per school is $900,000 after the Federal tax credit the cost would be $630,000 per school this enables each school to get a return on their investment off the system within 5 years. The upsurge in renewable resources and slump in fossil fuel consumptions is attributed to sustainable energy systems, energy transition, climate change, and clean energy initiatives. The fast growth of renewables brings new design and operational challenges to transition towards a 100% renewable energy goal. Energy storage systems can help ride-through energy transition from hydrocarbon fuels to renewable sources.

Whether a school district is seeking to upgrade heating and cooling systems or make comprehensive energy efficiency improvements, this price tag can be daunting. In many cases, installing a solar+storage ESS to power new equipment can prove far less costly than funding comprehensive infrastructure upgrades normally required to power such new equipment? For example, in 2016, in response to a $1.6 billion campus statewide air conditioning installation budget shortfall, the Hawaii Department of Education found a game-changing solution in microgrids. The capital cost of implementing roof-top PV+ESS storage together with split system A/C units to cool classrooms proved to be substantially lower than traditional grid-tied central air conditioning systems. This approach reduced the budget needed to $140 million. Plus, having on-site energy storage and flexibility in programming the power electronics allowed schools to keep their current energy costs and energy access stable while maintaining grid-connection for backup power.


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