Perth private school turns to "cheaper, cleaner" solar to slash power costs

A 120-year old private school in Western Australia is expecting to save around $235,000 a year on its energy costs after installing an impressive 512kW of rooftop solar.
Scotch College, a 1,500-student, 50-building facility located in Perth’s western suburbs, has installed 1,280 PV panels across multiple rooftops of the senior, junior/middle and maintenance school areas.
The system, installed by energy services business Verdia, will displace about 26 per cent of the school’s grid electricity use, including from a 50 metre pool, multipurpose library, and a large dormitory big enough to house 170 boarding students.
“It’s cheaper and cleaner than grid power and is a working example to students of a 21st century distributed power system,” said Verdia CEO Paul Peters.
For the school, the cost of the system is expected to pay for itself in just under five years and save the school $4 million in reduced energy costs over the life of the assets.

Verdia says the system is one of the biggest to be installed at an Australian school – although systems of this size appear to be becoming more and more “normal” in the education sector.
To name just a couple of examples we have reported on here, a 600kW PV system was installed by Solar Choice on Canberra’s Amaroo school, in 2015; and last year in Victoria, Northern Bay College revealed plans to install as much as 500kW of rooftop solar across its six campuses in the Geelong region.
Also in Victoria, local installers Gippsland Solar installed a whopping 862kW (2,650 panel) solar system on the roof of Camberwell Grammar School in Canterbury which as far as we know is the largest of its kind.
For Gippsland Solar, that job – which included two “off-grid classrooms and was completed in the first half of this year – marked the company’s fourth large-scale private school installation in two years, with others on Gippsland Grammar, Newhaven College, and a handful of public schools.
For Verdia, meanwhile, the Scotch College project in Perth is one of an estimated 68MW of behind-the-meter solar PV systems that company is developing and installing across Australia – across the retail, manufacturing, agribusiness, education, health and aged care sectors.
Verdia’s Peters said this rush of commercial solar activity could be partly attributed to large increases in the wholesale price of power, the declining cost of solar PV, and the increasing desire of large businesses to take control of energy costs, protect against volatile electricity prices and improve their environmental sustainability.

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