Private schools go big on solar – a lesson in ethics and good business

The list of Australian schools investing in commercial-scale solar to slash power costs and shrink their carbon footprints continues to grow, with the announcement of two major new installs being rolled out at two exclusive private schools – one in Western Australia and one in Victoria.
In Perth, Christ Church Grammar School announced on Monday that it had selected Perdaman Advanced Energy to install a 670kW solar PV system on its Claremont campus – a move the school says was motivated by both economics and ethics.
On the economic side, the investment (cost undisclosed) is expected to save the school nearly $200,000 on energy costs a year.
On the ethical side of the equation, the school sees the installation of zero carbon renewable energy generation technology as an important teachable moment.
We are clearly conveying to our students that everyone has a part to play in creating a more sustainable world,” said school principal Alan Jones in comments on Monday.
“Christ Church Grammar School is setting a new benchmark for the scale of solar deployed on a school campus and I expect more schools will follow.”
Perdaman managing director, Dominic Da Cruz, said solar was perfect for schools, which tended to have large areas of suitable roof space, and operating hours that provided a unique opportunity to marry power supply and demand in a ‘solar dense’ environment.
“(Christ Church Grammar) has plenty of roof space, and solar panels work all year to produce electricity,” Da Cruz said.
“Excess energy will be sold back to the grid, and in the not too distant future, batteries will be able to store surplus electricity which will kick in during the school’s peak periods of usage.”
Work on the system is due to commence in early 2018, and take around 28 weeks to install.
Across the continent, Victorian installer Gippsland Solar revealed last week it had begun installing an even bigger system of between 860kW-900kW on the rooftops of an as-yet undisclosed private school in Melbourne.
“Our team… will spend the next 12 weeks working through the summer school holidays, installing over 2,600 solar panels across the roof of the school precinct,” Gippsland Solar managing director Andrew McCarthy said on LinkedIn earlier this month.
“After many months of detailed design, drone mapping, engineering, and strategic planning, we can now start to put these ideas into action. We believe that with the level of innovation and detail we have put into this solution, it will raise the bar for any future commercial solar installations.”
In an email to One Step Off The Grid, McCarthy said he hoped to be able to reveal the name of the school soon – and we will endeavour to get pictures of the project, and some more details, when it is completed.

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