The NSW government will be implementing a new $20 million Schools Renewable Energy Infrastructure Pilot Project that will assess the benefits and costs of large-scale solar systems and batteries across public schools. The hope is this solar power project, together with other initiatives, will have the potential to reduce demand on the electricity network.
Treasurer and Energy Environment Minister Matt Kean said it was part of the NSW government’s efforts to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. By implementing new large-scale solar systems, the new systems would generate electricity to run the schools, store energy and sell it back to the grid.
“There is more than 8 million square metres of NSW public school roof space and this pilot will allow us to understand how we can use it to support the next generation of renewable energy on a larger scale,” Mr Kean said.
Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell hopes that schools will be able to reduce their overall power bills and their carbon footprint. She said the initiative was ground-breaking and exciting, and schools “could be leading the charge in green energy.”
The pilot program will take place at 25 public schools across the state, with work due to begin in the summer holidays.
About 1,500 of the state’s 2,200 public schools use some level of solar energy and a few sourced substantial amounts of energy from their 100-kilowatts of solar panels. Others have smaller systems of about 5 kilowatts, which mainly supplement other power sources.
Jamison High School in South Penrith is leading the way hoping for promising results after implementing solar panels on the school’s rooftops earlier this month.
“It’s been a great journey, to be making our contribution to sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint,” said Principal Glyn Trethewy. “Schools use power for the essential curriculum, but we also have large roof spaces.”
The system has also become an educational resource for maths, science and geography classes as students will be able to monitor the school’s real-time energy generation and consumption online. “It’s got a real curriculum focus [too],” Mr Trethewy said.
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