The Northern Territory has named all 25 schools selected to have their electricity bills slashed by as much as 40 per cent through a government-funded solar roll-out that kicked off in December 2018.
The NT Labor government said on Tuesday that the $5 million Rooftop Solar in Schools program would continue to be delivered over the course of three years to schools throughout the Territory, including in remote regions, with all 25 sites now selected on the basis of either their energy usage or innovative science programs.
The program is part of the Territory’s Roadmap to Renewables Plan, which is targeting 50 per cent renewable energy generation by 2030.
As ARENA noted here, schools are ideally suited to solar energy, due to their energy usage being highest during school hours during the day when the sun is shining, and dropping off when class finishes in the afternoon.
NT education minister Selena Uibo said the program was an investment in both education and renewable energy.
“Our $5 million Rooftop Solar in Schools program will enable selected schools to make significant savings in energy costs and redirect those savings into resources that will enhance learning,” she said.
“Additionally, the solar systems themselves will also enhance learning. Their monitoring and measurement equipment will support innovative school-based science and technology projects, inspiring our next generation of engineers and scientists to advance renewable energy solutions.”
The Territory’s minister for energy Dale Wakefield said the NT had an “incredible opportunity” to become a renewable energy superpower.
This is not just the opinion of the government, but was the conclusion of a major report by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), entitled the “10 Gigawatt Vision for the Northern Territory.”
That report outlined a plan for the creation of up to 8,000 new jobs by tapping into the territory’s rich solar resources and supporting the creation of new energy export industries, including renewable hydrogen.
As Michael Mazengarb noted at the time, while parts of the territory have already embraced renewables – Alice Springs in particular, which has passed 40 per cent renewable energy penetration within its grid – the previous government ran scare campaigns over the costs of taking the grid to 100 per cent renewables, and openly backed the growth of gas fracking.
“The $5 million Rooftop Solar in Schools program is an important part of our Roadmap to Renewables plan, to not only save schools money, but to equip our Territory students with the skills they need to maximise the job opportunities the clean energy sector will bring,” said Wakefield on Tuesday.
“In contrast, the CLP does not believe in renewable energy, remain opposed to our 50% target, and utterly failed to take advantage of the vast economic opportunities presented by cheap clean energy when they were in government,” he said.
The schools selected for the program include 10 for Round 1 (2018/19), eight for Round 2 (2019/20) and seven in Round 3 (2020/21). The schools include:
Casuarina Senior College
Palmerston Senior College
Katherine High School
Sanderson Middle School
Nhulunbuy High School
Centralian Middle School
Nightcliff Primary School
Tennant Creek High School
Berry Springs Primary School
Stuart Park Primary School
Dripstone Middle School
Braitling Primary School
Centralian Senior College
Anula Primary School
Nhulunbuy Primary School
Nightcliff Middle School
Bradshaw Primary School
Karama Primary School