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Solar for the future

11th Nov 2011

The implementation of renewable energy sources is becoming increasingly essential for future generations - however the younger members of the community are often the most environmentally aware and eager to adopt new environmental practices.

Schools around Australia are introducing solar power and other renewable sources to their facilities, assisted by government initiatives such as the National Solar Schools Program.

The grants scheme - totalling $25.04 million for 2011-12 - looks to help both primary and secondary school students take practical action to reduce emissions and electricity bills through the installation of rooftop solar panel systems, as well as providing educational benefits for students in learning about renewable energy and environmental stewardship.

While grant recipients are to be announced soon, one Tasmanian school has already taken a step towards a clean energy future.

One of the state government's largest education projects - Kingston High - opened its doors last week and boasts a passive solar design as one of the features essential for a school located in a cooler climate.

The passive system sees the building's structure - including windows, walls, and floors - possessing the ability to collect, store and distribute solar energy in the form of heat.

The new facility is set to provide the local community with an incentive to also consider renewable resources and energy usage in their own homes.

"I’m confident that the new Kingston High will be a place that inspires ideas and brings the community together," premier Lara Giddings said.

According to Ms Giddings, the school is one of the first in Australia to register for a five star green accreditation from the Green Building Council of Australia.

Along with school, the federal government has also successfully converted local community buildings to renewable energy with its solar credits program.

The scheme allows community groups - along with home owners and small businesses - to receive rebates for either grid-connected or off grid solar systems.

Renewable Energy Certificates are also available to be traded for financial incentives when installing solar panels.

As part of the Gillard government's target of 20 per cent renewable energy sourced electricity by 2020, state governments have also been encouraged to consider a green update to their buildings.

South Australia has taken the lead, requiring the mandatory installation of solar panels for both new and substantially refurbished government buildings since 2010.

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar Correspondent

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