There are now over 7,300 schools across the country with solar installations. These schools are saving money on electric bills, educating students about clean energy, and ensuring a brighter future for the next generation. A dramatic decline in the cost of solar panels — combined with new financing options — has now made solar widely accessible, creating tremendous untapped potential among the majority of our schools still without solar.

In September 2020, Generation 180 released the third edition of Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools. The Solar Foundation (now merged with IREC) was a partner on this report, along with the Solar Energy Industries Association. This is the most comprehensive study on solar at K-12 schools nationwide.

Map: Solar Schools Across the United States

This map was prepared by Generation 180.

Key findings of the third edition include:

  • There are now 7,332 K-12 schools using solar power nationwide, making up 5.5% of all K-12 public and private schools in the United States.
  • Since 2014, K-12 schools saw a 139% increase in the amount of solar installed. Today, 5.3 million students attend a school with solar.
  • 79% of the solar installed on schools was financed by a third party, such as a solar developer. This allows schools and districts, regardless of the size of their budget, to purchase solar energy and receive immediate energy cost savings.
  • Solar-powered school districts can save significantly on energy costs over time. For example, Tucson Unified School District in Arizona expects to save $43 million over 20 years. In Arkansas, the Batesville School District used energy savings to become the highest-paying school district in the county with teachers receiving up to $9,000 per year in raises.
  • The top five states for solar on schools are California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Indiana.

This report includes case studies on solar-powered schools and other resources to help districts go solar.

More Resources on Solar Schools

IREC is proud to be a leader in encouraging America’s schools to go solar. Below, you will find some of the previous reports from The Solar Foundation and other resources.

National Solar Schools Report: First Edition. In 2014, we joined our research partners at SEIA to release the first comprehensive report on solar energy at K-12 U.S. schools. At the time of release, there were 3,752 K-12 schools with solar installations at a combined capacity of 490 MW. The report also found that of the 125,000 K-12 schools in the country, up to 72,000 schools (60%) could cost-effectively go solar.

Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, 2nd Edition. We released the 2nd edition of this report in 2017 in partnership with SEIA and Generation 180. This report found there were 5,489 schools across the United States using solar energy.

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