School em­ploys nat­u­ral en­ergy


Schools in South Auck­land are har­ness­ing the sun’s power to teach stu­dents about sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy.

De La Salle Col­lege in Man­gere East is among the 130 schools, homes and com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions to re­ceive so­lar pan­els and a Tesla En­ergy Pow­er­wall bat­tery from Vec­tor and En­trust as part of their ‘Fu­ture of En­ergy’ ini­tia­tive.

Win­ners were cho­sen through a pub­lic on­line vote.

De La Salle head of sci­ence Kane Raukura says Vec­tor en­cour­aged schools and fam­i­lies to get in­volved with the project.

‘‘We got stu­dents and par­ents to vote for us on an iPad. Ev­ery­one got be­hind it. We were ... stoked to win.’’

Raukura says 12 so­lar pan­els were in­stalled on the roof of the school’s sci­ence block.

They feed into the school’s power grid. Any ex­cess elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated is sold to Mer­cury En­ergy as part of the com­pany’s buy-back scheme, he says.

‘‘I want to see if we can dis­con­nect the sci­ence block from the rest of the school and run it just off the pan­els.’’

The large Tesla En­ergy Po- wer­wall bat­tery is at­tached to a class­room wall in the sci­ence block. Raukura says it stores power ab­sorbed by the so­lar pan­els.

That power is used when­ever the sky is cloudy. The school’s sci­ence fac­ulty is very ‘‘for­ward think­ing’’ when it comes to new tech­nol­ogy, he says.

‘‘We’ve changed the units ac­com­mo­date this sort of thing.

‘‘Our year 7 to 13 stu­dents have units on sus­tain­abil­ity and we’ve in­te­grated the teach­ing of this into the pro­gramme.’’

Vec­tor and En­trust in­stalled the so­lar pan­els and bat­ter­ies in sub­urbs across the En­trust zone.

De­ploy­ments of so­lar pan­els and bat­ter­ies at such a scale helps Vec­tor to plan for the fu­ture when the tech­nol­ogy is more wide­spread.

En­trust chair­man Wil­liam Cairns says it’s ex­cit­ing to see how com­mu­ni­ties are ben­e­fit­ing from the so­lar and bat­tery sys­tems.

‘‘It’s ex­tremely grat­i­fy­ing to see what De La Salle Col­lege has cho­sen to do with their sys­tem.

‘‘This sort of tech­nol­ogy is great in a school en­vi­ron­ment be­cause it en­gages stu­dents with re­new­able en­ergy, new tech­nol­ogy, and the need to work to­gether to find ways of re­duc­ing our car­bon emis­sions.’’ to

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