Waterdown District High School in Hamilton has been awarded an $816,000 provincial grant to install solar panels on its roof. The teacher Tim Carr wants to make the school a “centre for renewable energy.”The innovative system  which should be completed by the next academic year. “Energy is something we take for granted,” said the environmental sciences and outdoor education teacher. “We’re not on a sustainable path.”

The Waterdown school  was looking for the local solar companies to donate supplies in lack of capital funds, then they came to know about the new provincial program that funds solar power projects in schools. With the board’s approval, Carr put together a proposal that he hoped would start to transform the school and educate his students.

The province passed over the school’s pitches for solar air and solar thermal systems in favour of the solar photovoltaic project. The panels will be installed by QPA Solar Inc. of Dundas. The solar system is expected to actually make money for the board over 20 years through its energy production.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Carr. “It’s good for the community and for the students.”

The school is already famous for its green reputation. As last year the students of this school hosted a concert powered by energy from five bicycles and the projects like solar air heater and wind turbines. Carr expects the solar panels will inspire students to continue to experiment with renewable energy.

“It will hopefully stimulate innovation,” he said, adding he’d like the board to invest the money it makes from the solar panels in green projects at other schools.

The board is already looking at a broader initiative that would seek new provincial funding for renewable energy projects, said Don Hull, senior manager for facilities services. The Waterdown project will be a good test case, he said, noting it’s been a learning opportunity.

“This is sort of a kick-start.”