Solar Power For More Victorian Government Schools

Solar panels for Victorian public schools

Following a successful pilot, more government schools in Victoria are to receive solar power systems under the Greener Government School Buildings Program.

In 2018, one hundred schools were selected for the Greener Government School Buildings Pilot Program, which was designed to slash government school carbon emissions and energy costs. Of those, 42 schools had solar panels installed in 2019.

The Victorian Government says that by October this year, “more than 1,300 megawatts of electricity” (assumed to mean megawatt-hours1) will have been generated by these systems and more than 1,600 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions avoided, while saving schools over $300,000.

Yesterday, Minister for Education James Merlino opened applications for a new phase of the program. All government schools are invited to apply, but there are eligibility conditions that will exclude some; including schools where buildings are not in adequate condition or are unable to receive sufficient sunlight.

The minimum sized system to be installed under the program is 10kW and the maximum size 99.9kW.

Some Of The Fine Print…

One of the conditions attached to having a system installed include its cost being paid back by the school in no more than 5 years, which should be easily achievable through electricity bill savings. Beneficiary schools will also need to contribute half of the ongoing electricity cost savings to Consolidated Revenue once payback is achieved. While the systems aren’t free as such, it’s a way to get a system installed for no up-front cost and then eventually reaping the benefits of ongoing reduced energy expenditure – freeing up financial resources for other areas of school infrastructure, services and activities.

“This program is another practical way we are helping reduce emissions and do our bit for the environment,” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.

The program will contribute to the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) of 50 per cent by 2030 and Climate Change Act (2017) greenhouse gas reduction target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Further details of the Greener Government School Buildings Program can be found here. Applications close on August 7, and all projects are to be completed by June 30 next year.

For government schools wanting to get the full electricity bill slashing benefits of PV that are in a position to pay the up-front costs, the good news is the cost of commercial solar has plummeted in recent years and schools are eligible for Australia’s national subsidy; more commonly referred to as the “solar rebate“.

Footnotes

  1. A megawatt is a measure of power and megawatt-hour a measure of energy – learn more about the difference between power and energy
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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