So­lar schools

With sun­shine hours co­in­cid­ing with the hours that schools op­er­ate, putting PV pan­els on our coun­try’s schools make a whole lot of sense.

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The Green Party launched its ‘So­lar in Schools’ pol­icy last month at Laingholm Pri­mary School in Auck­land. If im­ple­mented, 500 schools will have so­lar pan­els in­stalled over three years at a cost of $20m. The Greens have cal­cu­lated an­nual sav­ings off those schools’ power bills of $1.64m, with a sav­ing of $41m over the 25-year life­span of the so­lar pan­els.

The to­tal in­stalled ca­pac­ity will be al­most seven megawatts – the size of a small power sta­tion.

“In the same way that house­holds are pay­ing too much for power, schools’ elec­tric­ity bills are too high,” said Dr Rus­sel Nor­man, Greens co-leader.

“Our So­lar in Schools pol­icy will al­low them to save money on elec­tric­ity – money which can be in­vested di­rectly into teach­ing and learn­ing in­stead.

“It’s ef­fec­tively in­creas­ing schools’ op­er­a­tions bud­get, in a smart, green way.”

Laingholm Pri­mary School plans to in­stall a 10kW so­lar sys­tem, which will save it over $2500 a year in elec­tric­ity costs. “A sav­ing of $2500 on elec­tric­ity would en­able me to dou­ble the amount of money I al­lo­cate in my bud­get to literacy,” Prin­ci­pal Mar­tyn Weather­ill said.

“I would much rather spend money on stu­dents than on power,” he said. “This pol­icy will ben­e­fit the en­vi­ron­ment and im­prove stu­dent achieve­ment.”

Weather­ill says that so­lar power is ideal for schools. “The time we need most power co­in­cides with sun­light hours, for a start. But also we have a long-term view. We know we are still go­ing to be here in 50 years – so in­vest­ments like this make an aw­ful lot of sense.”

“Our So­lar in Schools pol­icy will al­low them to save money on elec­tric­ity – money which can be in­vested di­rectly into teach­ing and learn­ing in­stead.”

El­e­ment re­cently cov­ered the in­stal­la­tion of a 10kW gridtied so­lar ar­ray at Pe­ria School in North­land, which will save the school $6000 a year in power bills. The greater sav­ings from the same sized sys­tem as Laingholm School in­tends to in­stall is due to higher power prices in North­land and more sun­shine hours.

So­lar in Schools builds on pre­vi­ous Green Party en­ergy an­nounce­ments in­clud­ing So­lar Homes, which will help house­holds in­stall so­lar on their roofs through a pay­back sys­tem added to their rates.

Rus­sel Nor­man and Gareth Hughes with pupils from Laingholm Pri­mary School. PHOTO: James Rus­sell

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