BY: PHILIPPE DE JOCAS
It’s been a long time coming, but solar panels are finally on their way to carving out a real role for themselves on the world stage. From a tumultuous beginning, where they were seen as little more than novelties, technology has increased the power and capacity of these early pioneers. In 2016, solar panels expanded to record levels of profitability and efficiency, helped along by the fact that they had paid off their “carbon debt” and, having recapped the fossil fuel wattage needed to build them, were now truly carbon-neutral. It’s a sunny revolution, and all across the world environmentalists and developers are seeking to take advantage of the big leap forward.
The city of Bengaluru hopes to capitalize on the benefits of solar energy. In tropical regions where fossil fuels are often hard to come by, but where the sun also shines down in great amounts, the tide of photons available for photovoltaic gathering makes for fast, clean, and very cheap power— ideal for lower-income regions and neighbourhoods. Though the installation process remains expensive and sometimes time-consuming, the Indian government hopes to incentivize the process by offering considerable tax cutbacks and rewards for buildings and industries who pledge to adopt solar. Bengaluru hopes to reap the benefits of going green, and in doing so, help the planet.
The Canadian International School in Bengaluru is just one of the burgeoning international schools in India’s growing multicultural community, and an early adopter of an entirely green and self-sustaining lifestyle. The school’s roof is decorated with solar panels, and as the sun shines, the building produces more than 300 kilowatts of power on the hour. The city compensates the school for every watt it gives back to the power grid.
The school has made other environmental concessions as well. A biogas plant reuses animal waste and leftover cafeteria food, turning it back into carbon dioxide and methane to create a combustible yet clean fuel that feeds back into the school’s cafeteria, powering cooking machines. Even small concessions go a long way – the school has also begun a sustainable composting and greenhouse effort in an attempt to educate its students about the need for sustainable, locally-grown food in favour of the increasingly disposable fast food culture on the rise around the globe. Food products grown on campus find their way back onto the school’s menu.
So successful is this venture that the school has not yet had a blackout, running entirely off the grid and outsourcing its power to other buildings in the area, sharing the wealth. Sunny news if ever there was some.