Scientists estimate the sun will run out of hydrogen and expire in about 5 billion years, leaving the Surrey school district (SSD) plenty of time to take advantage of those precious photons.
With a new green initiative in place, the district plans to do just that.
Two years ago, as part of bid for grants, the province awarded SSD was $330,000 to explore the use of solar panel technology in schools. The result? Four high schools are having walls of solar panels installed.
The schools are Queen Elizabeth Secondary, Semiahmoo Secondary, Elgin Park Secondary and Fleetwood Park Secondary. Currently, Queen Elizabeth is the only school that has had its wall completed.
"From my perspective as a principal it's a neat thing to be done in schools," said Queen Elizabeth principal Mike Jellema. "A big part of it is educating our students so they've been able to observe the process of it being installed and we've been talking to students and it ties in to what they're looking to do in the future in reducing our carbon footprint for the school."
Alasdair MacKinnon, SSD director of energy management and sustainability, said the solar panels would supplement the current heating systems used in all four schools.
"The schools have a smart system and the temperature is monitored, so when it recognizes the building needs more heat it flips a damper and will draw heat from the solar walls," said MacKinnon. He estimates that across all four schools, roughly $22,000 will be saved per year, with a reduction in CO2 emissions of 88 tonnes.
Jellema said the panels also serve as an important educational tool.
"I look at the educational aspect for kids in seeing an alternate way to use the energy from the sun as opposed to our fossil fuels and this is perfect for that."