Youngsters at a Japanese primary school devastated by last year's earthquake are learning that solar power is 'the real thing'. Shiraishi Daiichi Elementary School, in East Japan, has officially opened its new solar generating unit.
It is the first of 50 primary schools to complete its project, which has been financed by the Coca-Cola Japan Reconstruction Fund.
The fund is giving grants to public schools in the Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures that were badly hit by the earthquake to help pupils learn about the benefits of clean energy.
Tomoichi Takeda, head of the Shiraishi Daiichi Elementary School, says, "One specific goal is to have our curriculum cover how solar power can help resolve environmental issues. We would like young people to apply what we teach them in their daily lives. We also want to help them build an exciting new future by deepening their interest in solar power and other renewable energy sources."
The Shiraishi Daiichi Elementary School received a grant of up to 30 million Japanese yen (£228,500/$369,000) to purchase and install solar power equipment. The project has been overseen by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
The school has installed a 20-kilowatt emergency solar generator and storage batteries with a total capacity of up to 16 kilowatts.
Grants are being offered to qualifying schools up until 31 March 2014. A selection committee from the Coca-Cola Japan Reconstruction Fund has already awarded 11 grants. Fresh applications begin again in September 2012.
Daiichi Elementary School pupils touching solar generator; Credit: Coca-Cola Japan Reconstruction Fund
The official opening was marked by a ribbon cutting by a solar generator. Among those attending were Shiraishi mayor, Kojo Kazama, School Principal, Tomoichi Takeda, President of Sendai Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Ltd, Kyo Suzuki, and Year Six pupils.
After the ceremony, the school principal urged the pupils to learn about solar power, clean energy and other environment issues.
The Coca-Cola Japan Reconstruction Fund is also helping the region to recover from the earthquake by constructing educational and other public buildings.
Masaharu Takeda, Chair of the Shiraishi City Board of Education, says everyone is very grateful for the grant.
Due to the new power storage facilities at Shiraishi Daiichi Elementary School, it is now being used to help develop additional evacuation sites and install solar energy generators at other local schools.
Since August 2011, the Coca-Cola Company has donated more than 2.5 billion Japanese yen around £20 million/$30million).
More details of the Coca-Cola Japan Reconstruction Fund can be found online.