The Kenyon College crew came back last week, and this year it was a team of all girls doing the solar installations. James said that they worked like a well-oiled machine installing this year’s panels.
The group to date has done 23 schools, an estimate of 250 Countrywide. Some of these learning institutions had no power at all and many still don’t. Imagine no lights, fans, computers or projectors – makes learning more difficult on so many levels. It is a huge deal that this annual solar panel project group is volunteering their time and expertise to expand renewable energy countrywide.
Mainland Belize Schools
This year the mainland schools that got new panels were Mount Carmel in Benque, Sacred Heart College in San Ignacio, Light of the Valley Primary in Stann Creek and Guinea Grass Primary, near Orange Walk.
An example of savings on the mainland from this project comes from
Nazarene school in Sarteneja. Their bill went from $120 down to $40 a month. That is a substantial saving as schools do not receive very much funding in Belize.
In addition to schools, the Kenyon team formed a new connection at Belmopan Aggregates and Hardware. They sell the exact same panels the college uses, so the team was happy to find a reasonably priced in country option and shop locally next year. Not only are the panels a great price by the pallet, but they are also increased strength. 275 watts vs last year’s model that was used were 230 watts.
Ambergris Caye Schools
This year New Horizons Primary School got 4 extra panels, making their install 12 this year. The school has 3 power meters and space to keep going in the future. The goal is to knock off 25% of their electric bill.
I texted New Horizons Principal Samuel Chi to find out how their new system is working out. I learned after one year of solar, they are experiencing a savings of about 10 to 12 percent on one meter. With the installation of this year’s new panels, he hopes to hope to have 10% to 15% on each meter.
Help New Horizons Primary School
Recognizing that schools need help, Kenyon offers schools the option of a solar power payment plan. New Horizons is still working on fundraising to cover the rest of the $5044 BZD. If you would like to help, you can make a donation at the New Horizons school office in the Escalante sub-division. If you are in the United States, please reach out, and email me at tacogirlbelize[at]gmail.com with ‘Belize Solar Project’ in the header. They are in the process of setting up a solar bank account to make it easy to donate.
If you have interest in solar power panels for your home or need help with your system, David Sosa is a great guy on Ambergris Caye. He can be reached at 624-2874 , and he also repairs washing machines.
You might also like to see Belize Solar Project which gives current solar data for all schools in Belize that were installed by Kenyon College. You can also check out last year’s write up I did – Solar For Schools In Belize.
Previous School Solar Instalations
Monitoring previously installed solar systems is also something that Kenyon College does while here. They did a quick pass of Brighter Tomorrow Preschool and realized they had to have the inverter controller board replaced, and it is now working again. At San Pedro High School, all was good with their systems.
Ambergris Caye Elementary, the first Kenyon install on the island in 2017 was due to get more panels but upon assessment, the roof was too high to meet the Kenyon College requirements for student safety. The Ohio College mandates that students are not to go on second story roofs. The Kenyon teachers will look at rounding up local adult help for next year to grow their system.
Future Solar Goals
The Kenyon College group can only do so many schools a year, but they know how great the needs is. They want to multiply their efforts. This year they started an assessment stage to see if it is feasible to start teaching interested parties at schools or in the communities that are willing to help do school installations. At $900 USD, 4-panel system and double for 8 panels, it will be possible for more schools to raise funds and go solar.
Picture collage courtesy of Steve Harp, featured image courtesy of James Skon.