Environmental Leadership
June 18, 2019

Summer solstice marks launch of unique STEM learning experience

New solar array energized at Thomas A. Edison High School in Minneapolis

Hands-on learning has taken on a bright, new meaning for students at Thomas A. Edison High School in northeast Minneapolis. The school’s newly installed solar panels will be used as teaching tools and become part of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program for Edison students. The 485-kilowatt solar array will generate enough energy for about half the school’s annual needs, and was built with a grant from Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development Fund. The system will be extra-energized on the summer solstice June 21, our longest day of the year.


Edison High School with rooftop solar array.
Downtown Minneapolis skyline in upper left corner.
Photo courtesy of Sundial Solar Energy


“Xcel Energy is leading the clean energy transition and is on a path to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2030,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota. “As we add more renewable energy onto our system, we’re excited to use some of these projects to also provide teaching opportunities today for the workers we will hire tomorrow.”

Providing students with real working knowledge of renewable technologies

In addition to integrating the solar arrays with its STEM curricula, Edison plans to include solar energy among its LEEF (Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Environment Future) program that engages students in career pathways exploration with visits to training sites. Real-time data on solar production at Edison is available in the classroom and expected to be used in future math and science courses. The nearly $1 million Xcel Energy grant supporting the project also includes electric vehicle charging stations and reinforces the school’s designation as the Minneapolis Public School’s green campus.

Prior to construction beginning, the school reinforced the building’s roof to ensure it could support the weight of the solar panels, as well as build a new canopy to hold additional panels. The solar panels were installed in 2018 and energized this spring. Sundial Solar Energy, a Minnesota-based solar developer, managed the engineering, procurement, construction and interconnection of the solar project for Minneapolis Public Schools.Total project cost was $1.7 million, with additional funding from Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association and the State of Minnesota via the Volkswagen emissions settlement.

Learn more about Xcel Energy’s plan to achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050