More Solar My School Installations Roll Out In Sydney’s East

Solar schools in Australia

Bondi Beach Public School sporting new solar panels

An initiative in Sydney helping schools to make the switch to solar power has racked up another couple of PV installations.

Solar my School was founded in 2016 by Waverley, Woollahra and Randwick Councils with the goal of making it easier for schools to access the technology through the provision of support and advice from the discovery phase through to handover. Since its founding, the program has expanded to cover 14 Sydney council areas.

To date, the initiative has assisted or is currently assisting 117 schools in getting solar panels installed. Among those to recently benefit from the program are:

  • Bondi Beach Public School: 70kW system expected to save the school $20,000 each year and avoid 91 tonnes carbon emissions annually.
  • Clovelly Public School: 63kW system estimated to save around $13,000 each year and avoid 69 tonnes carbon emissions annually.

According to Waverley Council, these two projects are currently the largest primary school solar power system installations in Sydney’s east. Both schools received environmental grants through Council’s Small Grants Program to assist with installation costs.

Solar my School Program Manager Anthony Weinberg said since the initiative began, it has assisted around 90% of schools in Sydney’s east to go solar and that installations at schools account for around eight percent of all solar PV in the region. The program is also assisting schools in other metropolitan areas.

“Schools are the ideal sites for solar because they have large, often-unshaded, roof spaces, high daytime electricity demand, long tenure and a commitment to educating their students about positive environmental action,” said Mr. Weinberg.

Solar In Australian Schools

4,897 schools across Australia were able to install solar panels under the National Solar Schools Program (NSSP) that operated until the middle of 2013. More recently there have been state government based programs, including initiatives in Queensland and the Northern Territory. In June this year, the Victorian Government announced more schools were to receive solar power systems under the Greener Government School Buildings Program.

Some schools choose to switch to solar even if there is no special state-based solar program available, instead accessing other funding sources. We recently noted Westminster School in Adelaide’s south-west has added 370kW of solar power capacity that was funded by private and corporate donors, and a 2019 State Government Capital Grant for Independent Non-Government Schools.

Schools are also eligible for Australia’s major solar subsidy, which can reduce the cost of acquiring a commercial solar system by many thousands of dollars. A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is another option, which involves zero up-front cost. A third party owns, operates and maintains the system and the school is charged for the electricity that it consumes, usually at a significantly lower rate than mains grid supply.

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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