Western Australia government plans to transform up to 10 public schools into solar and battery enabled virtual power plants has kicked off in the state’s Goldfields-Esperance region, with the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community High School.
The $4 million scheme, part of the state Labor government’s Recovery Plan, will install unspecified amounts of rooftop solar and “commercial” battery systems, allowing schools to cut their energy costs while also assisting with grid stability.
The school solar and battery systems will also boost the ability of local residents to enjoy the benefits of rooftop solar and improved power quality.
The schools selected for the 24 month trial are being chosen based on grid suitability and their position on the South West Interconnected System, Western Australia’s main electricity network that extends to the coast in the south and west, to Kalbarri in the north and Kalgoorlie in the east.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community High School, as first cab off the rank, is expected to be fitted out with PV panel and a battery energy storage system over the coming months.
W.A. Premier Mark McGowan and energy minister Bill Johnston visited the school earlier this week to announce the launch of the scheme and did a bit of solar car racing with the students to mark the occasion. They did not win.
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“I’m pleased to kick off this trial today at Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community High School, which teaches students about the benefits of renewable energy and new technologies, and will help improve the Goldfields region’s renewable energy footprint,” McGowan said.
“This pilot is another example of how my Government continues to invest in renewable energy technologies and develop a pathway for more job and training opportunities.”
Johnston described the Schools Virtual Power Plant pilot as an exciting milestone for the state, that would pave the way for a more energy efficient system in Western Australia.
“Regional Western Australians will be able to enjoy the benefits of rooftop solar and improved power quality in their local communities,” he said.
“This initiative supports the McGowan Government’s Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap, which will help transition WA towards a cleaner, greener energy future.”