The students at two of Bayside College’s campuses in Victoria will be returning to class this week to find that their schools are powered by solar energy. The two 98kW* solar systems, which were installed late last year, are expected to generate 166,779 kWh in total every year, reducing the college’s carbon footprint and energy costs.
Within the first year, the two systems combined are expected to save 38% on the college’s electricity bills and offset 133 tonnes of CO2. Over 25 years, that’s the equivalent of planting 444 trees or taking 1,293 cars off the road for a year!
Bayside College’s Principal, Andrew Harnett, said installing solar panels on two of the campuses was a good decision for the college.
“We want to be producing electricity in a sustainable way [and] returning some electricity to the grid where we can. The other benefit is a cost-benefit for the school that’s a no-brainer,” said Mr Harnett.
By drastically reducing the campuses’ dependency on the electricity grid to power the school, Bayside College is expected to save close to $1,000,000 over 25 years. The solar systems were made possible for the college through a Solar Rental Agreement, which was structured and supplied by their solar energy company, Planet Ark Power, and funded by Green Squares. This means the solar systems were installed at no cost to the school and all operations and maintenance costs, including any potential replacement expenditures and monitoring, are included in the rental payments.
“We entered a rental agreement with Planet Ark Power that has no upfront costs. They maintain and operate the system, and the rent we’re paying is less than the cost of the electricity we’re offsetting,” explained Mr Harnett.
Planet Ark Power, a sister organisation to Planet Ark Environmental Foundation, created a solar rental option for schools that meets the guidelines set by the Department of Education and Training (DET) and the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) – a previous hurdle for many Victorian schools that didn’t have the self-funding available for solar or to expand existing systems.
Planet Ark’s Deputy CEO, Rebecca Gilling, said the environmental not-for-profit had been searching for a solar energy company to partner with to support one of their key pillars: supporting low carbon lifestyles.
“Our partnership with Planet Ark Power really is an incredible initiative that’s making a real difference to schools and businesses both economically and environmentally,” said Ms Gilling.
By adopting clean energy solutions, Bayside College is leading by example and teaching the next generation how to be accountable to the planet – a sentiment that is not lost on the students.
“I think a lot of us are now thinking about future generations because we’re more aware of what’s happening with the climate,” said one Bayside College student.
“To be implementing solar power, and possibly in the future other renewable sources of energy, it tells us that maybe things won’t be as bad as we think it will be in the future and it gives us hope – and that’s what we need.”
*Solar systems are 98.01kW and 99.66kW.
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