Sydney Catholic schools preach solar savings with 1.3MW rooftop PV roll-out

A 1.3MW “power generator” worth of rooftop solar is set to be installed across 19 Catholic schools in Western Sydney, in a bid to cut their grid power supply by 25 per cent and save a collective $1 million a year on energy costs.

The solar rollout, led by energy services firm Verdia, will install 4,286 solar panels, as well as 16,942 LED lights, as part of the Catholic Education Diocese Parramatta energy efficiency program.

The solar and energy efficiency program, launched to coincide with World Environment Day, was officially kicked off at Gilroy College in Castle Hill, with the commissioning of that school’s 92kW PV system.

Nine more of the primary and high schools have also completed their solar and light installations, while a remaining nine are due to be generating their own solar power before the start of the 2020 school year.

Catholic Education Diocese Parramatta executive director Greg Whitby said the program would not only save money for the schools, but offer students a working demonstration of the sustainable generation of power.

“Our energy bills have increased by about 30 per cent over the past three years and that’s money we would rather invest in the education of our students,” Whitby said.

“This program will cut our electricity bills by almost 35 per cent. That’s a great saving for our whole school community.

“It’s a practical demonstration of renewable energy in action for our students as well, so we’re very hopeful it will help us develop greater interest and passion in core STEM subjects.”

The program – which will reduce carbon emissions at the schools by an estimated 2,306 tonnes each year – is expected to have a payback period of just over six years.

Verdia CEO Paul Peters said the solar PV systems installed across the 19 schools would produce enough electricity to power about 525 typical homes.

“It will be like having a 1.3-megawatt solar power generator plugged into the schools.

“The solar PV systems will produce emissions free energy on site – cutting their grid-fed supply by about one quarter,” Peters said.

“Each LED light uses about half the energy of the older style lights and they last about five times longer. So, you don’t replace them as often and they draw down much less energy from the grid.”

Verdia has been involved in delivering some major commercial solar installs all around Australia and across various sectors, including more than 3.4MW in rooftop PV at 54 aged care facilities across NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

For beverage giant Coca-Cola Amatil, Verdia has also overseen the installation of 3.5MW of commercial solar across three Australian sites, in three different states, starting in October last year.

And for Perth private school, Scotch College, Verdia installed an impressive 512kW rooftop solar system.

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