Solar system reduces King’s energy costs to zero
The next time you visit campus, take a long look at the staff and Middle School parking lot canopies, the roof of the gym, and the area near the nursery. What’s different? King’s has officially gone solar, and is now home to thousands of panels installed in several spots on campus.
Designed and built by Saudi Arabian power generation company ACWA Power, the new network of solar grids comprises 8,130 photovoltaic (PV) panels that boast a collective area of 15,730 square meters. Photovoltaic solar panels produce electricity directly from sunlight, as opposed to solar thermal panels, which use the sun’s energy to generate heat.
The project was initially agreed upon in the spring of 2017, when Chairman of the King’s Academy Board of Trustees Bassem Al-Salem and Chairman of ACWA Power Mohammad Abunayyan signed a memorandum of understanding.
ACWA Power generously donated the full cost of the system, or about $3 million, to King’s. “ACWA Power is proud to contribute to the enhancement and sustainability of King’s Academy as we believe in the importance of the school’s message and vision,” Abunayyan said.
The largest independent power producer in Jordan, ACWA Power develops, funds and operates corporate sustainability and responsibility initiatives in Jordan in addition to 10 other countries from North Africa to Southeast Asia.
In the end, the solar system took just over a year from the date of the agreement to become fully operational. It was almost completely installed by May 2018, when HRH Crown Prince Hussein Abdullah ’12 visited campus to inaugurate it. Work continued into the summer and by mid-summer the system was up and running.
Director of Operations Ola Bseiso is thrilled with the new system. “It is our energy solution,” she says. “Everything on campus has been powered by electricity, from the Dining Hall to the Academic Building to the dorms and gym…electricity consumption has been the most expensive item on our budget every year.”
The environmental ramifications of the solar panels are profound; the system offsets the equivalent of 2,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. If that is hard to visualize, try to imagine 303,600,000 gallon jugs filled with carbon dioxide.
The system generates 2.6 megawatts, or 2.6 million watts, of power for the school. For context, this amount powers the equivalent of nearly 400 households. It is designed to meet and exceed the energy needs of King’s Academy, and will in fact send excess output to the main power grid every year.
This school year was the first full year for the solar system, and Bseiso explains that it was one of observation.
“We have been assessing our energy consumption and the solar production, and we have been working closely with the Jordanian electricity company to monitor our usage and output.”
In addition, the panels will ultimately reduce the energy cost of the school to zero. And King’s will be able to put the substantial savings to good use. “The money can go to financial aid,” says Bseiso. “It can go to projects that Facilities are working on to enhance the student experience at King’s, like adding air conditioners to more classrooms.”
The effect of the solar panels extends far beyond the King’s campus. Jordan as a country is looking to the future as it encourages sourcing electricity through sustainable sources and increasing the contribution of renewable energy sources to the national energy supply. The photovoltaic plant will contribute tangibly toward the nationwide supply and underscores the significance of the country’s effort.