NT schools go solar powered


Schools in the Northern Territory are set to undergo a renewable energy revolution with the Northern Territory government embarking on a $5 million project to put solar PV on up to 25 schools.

Schools are ideally suited for solar energy as their energy usage is highest during school hours when the sun is shining, unlike households where peak energy usage is in the evening.

The first round of the program has allocated $1.5 million to kick off the planning process at the first 10 schools, with eight expected to be complete by the end of the financial year.

The schools were selected based on their energy consumption, with priority given to the highest users. The solar installations are expected to cut energy bills by as much as 40 per cent.

The Rooftop Solar in Schools Program is part of the Government’s Roadmap to Renewables Plan to transition to renewable energy in the Northern Territory. The Territory Labor Government has set a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

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NT Minister for Education Selena Uibo said the solar installations will act as a hands-on tool for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education.

“The solar systems will include monitoring and measurement equipment and will facilitate innovative school-based projects, inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists to advance renewable energy solutions,” Ms Uibo said.

Minister for Renewables and Essential Services and Member for Braitling Dale Wakefield said the Territory Labor Government is leading the way with solar and is investing in major projects to achieve its renewables target.

“Along with the $5M Rooftop Solar in Schools program, we have also invested in the $15M home improvement scheme, the $4.5M smart energy grants scheme as well as the one-for-one solar feed-in tariff provided by Jacana Energy, Australia’s most generous,” Mr Wakefield said.

The Northern Territory isn’t the only Australian region benefiting from solar in classrooms.

In 2018, Western Sydney-based startup HIVVE developed an innovative way to provide the benefits of solar to schools using solar powered portable classrooms.

With $368,000 in funding from ARENA in late 2017, the start-up installed state-of-the-art modular relocatable classrooms, powered by rooftop solar PV and battery storage.

In November 2018, the third HIVVE classroom was officially opened at Bracken Ridge High School in Brisbane’s northern suburbs.

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