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