Coop School expands solar footprint

Majuro Coop School Board President Ben Wakefield and UNDP’s Limbok Sawej took up shovels as part of the groundbreaking for the school’s new solar power and water project supported by UNDP. Photo: Giff Johnson.

Majuro Cooperative School received a United Nations Development Program grant to implement a solar project aimed at solving several of the school’s needs, including reducing its power bill.

“With aims of cost-cutting we are proceeding with converting the first elementary block completely to solar power with MEC lines as a backup,” said Majuro Cooperative middle and high school Principal Kenneth Fernando. “All four classrooms including lights, outlets, fans and air conditioners will be powered by the solar system. In addition to the classrooms, the restroom pumps will also be powered by solar to have continued facility services during power outages.”

The project is being implemented in three stages. Staff and board members got together earlier this month to break ground for the launch of phase one.

Part of the phase one system is a desalination system which can produce clean drinking water, said Fernando. “Our staff will have access to water foregoing the need to purchase water,” he said. “This will also assist in times of drought so we are certain our staff will still have access to clean water just outside their apartments.” The desalination unit will also provide water for the high school classroom water dispensers and Coop sports events held at the gymnasium. 

“We hope in the future we can continue to the next phases eventually to have all buildings powered by renewal energy,” he said.

The school’s classrooms are all air conditioned, which has brought their energy bill up to around $30,000 per year. In addition, the school does not have an internal source of safe drinking water, and students sometimes have to be sent home during power outages due to a lack of water supply to the bathrooms.

The solar project will not only reduce the school’s energy bills drastically for the four elementary classrooms, but will also reduce the school’s carbon footprint, and provide a reliable drinking water and water pumping solution for the school.

The school is partnering with Green Energy Solutions, a local solar and energy efficiency company, on the design and installation of the solar plan.

This initial phase has three components:
• Solar hybrid 18,000btu air conditioners that will be powered by solar panels now being installed on the elementary building roof. This is expected to reduce the energy cost for these classrooms by close to 80 percent.
• Solar water desalination system that produces 30 gallons of drinking water daily.
• Solar water pump for bathrooms to reduce power use and ensure water flows during power outages.

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