Microsoft has teamed up with energy company SSE Airtricity to install internet-connected solar panels on 27 schools across Ireland.
The project will enable primary and secondary schools to power classrooms using solar energy, reducing their carbon footprint and costs.
The project, which includes an investment of almost €1 million from the Microsoft Sustainability fund, will see the panels installed and managed by SSE Airtricity, and connected to Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure.
The project is part of an effort by the companies to prove the viability of distributed energy generation. Software tools aggregate and analyse real-time data on energy generated by the solar panels.
"By harnessing the power of technology, we can live out our mission in a way that protects our planet and our local communities," said Cathriona Hallahan, managing director of Microsoft Ireland. "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."
Part of the project includes education of students in their role in fighting climate change. Digital screens have been set up in the schools so students can track real-time energy use, and they will also take part in a programme aimed at educating young people on the challenges presented by climate change and how technology can help create more sustainable communities.
The panels installed at the schools can generate enough electricity for 68 Irish homes for a full year, and are expected to offset 2.1 million kg of harmful carbon emissions over 15 years.
"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," said Klair Neenan, managing director of SSE Airtricity. "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 benefiting their school and community on a daily basis."