$5M Rooftop Solar Roll Out For NT Schools To Commence

Solar schools - Northern Territory

Image: Hans

The Northern Territory’s government has announced the first round of schools that will soon have solar panels installed.

Part of the Government’s Roadmap To Renewables plan, a total of 25 schools will have solar power systems installed in three rounds over the next three years.

In the initial round, $1.5 million has been allocated to commence planning for installation at 10 schools, with eight expected to be completed by the end of June next year. Most schools have been chosen based on their level of energy consumption, with priority given to the biggest electricity consumers.  In each round, two positions are also open for any school to apply for the installation of a PV system.

While capacity of the systems to be installed wasn’t mentioned, NT Minister for Education Selena Uibo said the schools involved will save up to  40 per cent of their energy costs, freeing up funds to be redirected into education.

 “It will also act as a hands-on tool for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education,” stated Minister Uibo. “The solar systems will include monitoring and measurement equipment and will facilitate innovative school-based projects, inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists to advance renewable energy solutions.”

A list of the schools to benefit from the solar panel rollout can be viewed here. 19 have been named, with another 6 yet to be confirmed.

There are 192 schools in the Northern Territory. In addition to those benefiting under this scheme, some would have been among the 4,897 Australian schools that had systems installed under the National Solar Schools Program (NSSP), which ended in 2013.

Solar Power The Target Technology Of Choice

The Territory Labor Government has set a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, which it says will deliver jobs as well as cheaper and cleaner power. The Roadmap To Renewables report recommended solar energy be the technology of choice to reach this goal, supported by energy storage.

The NT government has quite a task ahead of it. The Climate Council’s recent Renewable Energy Scorecard put the NT second-last of all Australia’s states and territories, grading it a “C”. It noted the amount of renewables in the Territory’s energy mix was just 3% in 2017.

The Gunner Government had been somewhat occupied during the first half of this year with gasbagging and fracking around, but there has since been change in focus back towards its renewables commitments.

Home Solar In The Territory

NT households are also doing their bit towards slashing the Territory’s energy emissions (and their own power bills). Approximately 13.8% of households have installed solar panels, with much of the capacity located in Darwin and its suburbs.

The NT solar feed-in tariff remains the most generous in the country, set at the same rate as the standard tariff for electricity. However, the cost of installing solar in the Territory tends to be higher than in other states. Also looming is the result of a feed-in tariff review, with a draft tariff policy position paper to be released for public feedback next year.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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