Queensland fast-tracks school solar roll-out in bid to beat Covid blues

A Queensland government plan to install “virtual solar farm” across more than 800 state schools has been fast-tracked, as part of a plan to support industry through the post-Covid 19 economic downturn.

The Advancing Clean Energy School initiative, announced in February of this year, originally committed to a $71.1 million, four-year roll out of solar across 650 schools to defray the costs of installing air-conditioning in every public school classroom – a separate government initiative.

The Labor Palaszczuk government had aimed to install 26MW of solar capacity at hundreds of schools over three phases by mid-2022 and create an 1,000 jobs through in the installation of the solar systems.

Queensland’s minister for education and industrial relations, Grace Grace, said this week that with phase one well underway, work on an initial 210 state schools was nearing completion and “pumping out 11MW of power.”

Buoyed by this progress – and to support “valuable” renewables jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic – she said the government had decided to bring forward installs at an additional 80 state schools, originally set to benefit from future phases of the ACES program.

“We are now leveraging our success and getting started early on some of the schools initially earmarked for future phases of the program,” minister Grace said in a statement.

“Schools in the Redlands, Brisbane South, Logan, the Gold Coast, Bundaberg, the Sunshine Coast, the outback, North Queensland, Moreton Bay and in the Whitsundays will all benefit from additional energy saving measures.”

The 580 schools earmarked to be part of phases two and three of the ACES program would then be rolled out from July 1 this year, the minister said.

“This ongoing solar installation program is another real example of the Palaszczuk government’s commitment to supporting jobs and the economy as it continues to support industry during the uncertainty of COVID-19.

“We are maintaining a consistent pipeline of work, in turn supporting the tradespeople who have been working in many of our communities across Queensland,” minister Grace said.

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