Microsoft and SSE Airtricity in new schools solar energy partnership

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28th September 2020

Microsoft and SSE Airtricity help solar schools soar with new green energy partnership

Microsoft Ireland and SSE Airtricity have today announced a new renewable energy project that enables schools to power classrooms using energy generated from their own roof, helping them to reduce their carbon footprint, and their costs.

With an investment of close to one million euro, the partnership will see Microsoft and SSE Airtricity, Ireland’s largest provider of 100% green energy†, install and manage the internet-connected solar panels in 27 primary and secondary schools across Connaught, Leinster and Munster, which are connected via Azure IoT to Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing platform. The panels installed across all 27 locations have the combined power to generate enough electricity for 68 Irish homes for a full year.

Microsoft and SSE Airtricity identified the opportunity to build renewable energy solutions that would enable consumers to generate power from sustainable sources, using the existing grid connection on their premises. Driven by a shared ambition to prove the viability of distributed energy generation it is hoped this project is a step towards opening the energy saving and carbon reduction potential of rooftop solar across Ireland, and the world.

The software tools aggregate and analyze real-time data on energy generated by the solar panels, demonstrating a mechanism for Microsoft and other corporations to achieve sustainability goals and reduce the carbon footprint of the electric power grid. Over 15 years, it is expected that the solar panels will produce enough clean energy to offset more than approximately 2.1 million kilograms of harmful CO2 emissions.

Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ireland said: “At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. By harnessing the power of technology, we can live out our mission in a way that protects our planet and our local communities. We are delighted therefore to partner with SSE Airtricity on this important project. With an investment of close to one million euro from the Microsoft Sustainability Fund, not only will 27 schools now power their classrooms using energy generated from their own rooftops, reducing their carbon footprint and costs, we will also look to provide the viability of distributed energy generation by aggregating and analysing real-time data on energy generated by the solar panels.”

“Collectively we can take a step in the right direction and harness the power of innovative technology that will help generate renewable energy and go some way towards offsetting carbon emissions. Through the installation of new solar panels and the new data-driven insights from Microsoft’s Azure cloud, we look forward to enabling sustainable practices inside and outside the school gate. Working together, we hope to open up the energy saving and carbon reduction potential of rooftop solar across Ireland and perhaps one day across the world.

school roof with solar panels

Klair Neenan, Managing Director of SSE Airtricity said: “SSE Airtricity is proud to be Ireland’s largest generator and supplier of 100% green energy. Providing renewable energy solutions is in our DNA and we are delighted to partner with Microsoft Ireland on a project that will deliver real, tangible benefits for these 27 schools and their communities, supporting them on their decarbonisation journey. We are focused on delivering initiatives that will make a real difference in helping Ireland move a step closer to achieving our ambitious 2030 climate targets, while providing practical energy solutions that will support communities, businesses and policymakers on the collective path to net zero.

This new collaborative project will allow students throughout Ireland to see first-hand how sustainability and renewable energy can combine to help fight climate change while also benefitting their school and community on a daily basis.

A key objective of the project is to educate students about the role they can play in combatting climate change. Digital screens have been set up in all 27 schools for students to track energy use in real time, allowing them to see the impact of the energy efficiency upgrades in their school. Students from the schools will also participate in a programme designed to educate and inform young people about the challenges posed by climate change and the role technology can play in creating more sustainable communities across Ireland.

front of school with solar panels

Kinsale Community School is one of the 27 schools participating in the project and recently received its solar panel installation. Speaking about the installation Fergal McCarthy, Principal, Kinsale Community School said: “Our school has been working with Microsoft for several years to realise our digital vision. Following a visit to DreamSpace, Microsoft’s dedicated innovation and education hub at its campus in Dublin, we went on to create our own version at the experience for our students. Since then we’ve joined the Microsoft Innovative School community and it’s been a great experience for us as a school to open our minds to doing things differently through technology, something which has really stood to us as a skill this year.”

“Participation in this project is a natural next step for Kinsale Community School and our students. Its sustainable focus is very important to us not only because it will reduce our costs and carbon footprint but also because it will enable us to educate our students about the positive impact that innovative technology is having on our school, as well as the wider Kinsale community. We’re really thrilled to have been selected to participate in this project.

Currently in development, the 3-part syllabus will cover a range of topics, including renewable energy, sustainability biodiversity and technology. The lessons will be delivered through a series of interactive activities and challenges with the aim of bringing sustainability into daily school life and showing the role technology and renewable energy can play in creating a more sustainable future for the next generation.


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