Solar and battery schools “test case” fast-tracked in ACT Covid recovery plan

The ACT has become the latest among state and territory governments to prioritise renewable energy projects during the Covid-19 downturn, in this case by fast-tracking the installation of solar and battery storage at two public schools.

In a statement on Monday, the government said 40kW solar and battery storage systems would be installed at two of the Territory’s public schools, including the Margaret Hendry School – the ACT’s first public school to produce zero emissions in its operation – and Caroline Chisholm.

ACT minister for energy Shane Rattenbury said the approximately $100,000 project would allow for the storage of onsite rooftop solar generation for later use in peak electricity demand periods.

The installations would also be used as test cases for the government, to provide data on how to optimise the use of batteries to meet the energy needs of schools across the Capital Territory.

“As well as the local economic stimulus benefits for the ACT electrical trades sector, this fast-track project will reduce grid electricity demand and school energy costs,” Rattenbury said.

“We expect that by demonstrating the multiple benefits of solar battery storage systems, they will pave the way for future expansion of batteries across other ACT schools and the community more widely.

“At the same time, they will help the Territory improve its sustainability, move us closer to our goal of zero-net emissions by 2045, and help ensure we remain a world leader in addressing climate change.”

Alongside the solar and battery schools program, the government is also fast-tracking a $365,000 program to make solar and sustainability upgrades on public and community housing.

Minister for housing Yvette Berry announced late last week that the upgrades, which would include draughtproofing and the installation of rooftop solar panels, would be rolled out at the Common Ground Gungahlin, a multi-unit property in Kaleen, and to a further 10 properties leased to community organisations.

“This project will deliver lower electricity costs for people in our community who are most in need of support, particularly during the coming winter when electricity bills often grow,” Berry said on Friday.

“The ACT Government leads Australia in investing in public and community housing and supporting people to have a roof over their head.

“We’re extending our support through projects like this so that people experiencing vulnerability have the chance to get ahead.

“This project is part of the governments economic survival package that is providing jobs for Canberrans, while upgrading and renewing infrastructure across the city,” Berry said.

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