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