Inner West students and council join forces to put solar in schools

The Sydney inner west solar scene has been boosted as a group of student leaders in the area have joined the growing solar in schools movement.

The Sydney Student Leader Coalition (SSLC) is a collective of high school students from inner west schools that advocates for change within their communities. The Coalition is partnering with Inner West Council to get rooftop solar for local schools.

Mayor Darcy Byrne has welcomed the initiative and offered Council support. He describes the students’ enthusiasm as “inspiring”, saying it should be matched by local government action.

Members of the Sydney Student Leaders Coalition with Inner West Council Mayor Darcy Byrne.

Twin goals: saving the environment, saving money

The motivation behind the inner west solar initiative is both economic and environmental.

Participating schools could potentially shave off thousands each year from their electricity bills. They could also drastically reduce carbon emissions.

SSLC started the ball rolling after being inspired by Caringbah High School south of Sydney, which has already saved thousands per year on electricity bills with solar power.

How the inner west solar school program will pan out

The Department of Education will provide 50 per cent of the funds for a rooftop solar array through its tendering program. It’s then up to the school to set a budget and goal and come up with the rest of the funds needed.

The Department also offers other resources. This includes information and advice on the size and type of solar installation each school would need.

Raising money is only one aspect of this, however, and Inner West Council will assist with practical support.

Byrne says Council will help the students co-ordinate the solar in schools program. This will include organisation, formulating proposals, and the logistics of making solar installations happen.

Growth of solar in schools movement

While the Morrison Government continues to ignore this week’s alarming IPCC report, solar programs for schools are growing in popularity.

Through the Solar My School program, for instance, more than 50 schools in Sydney’s eastern suburbs have installed solar panels or are in the process.

For example, Rose Bay Public School in Woollahra has saved over $5,000 and 25 tonnes of emissions a year through its 30 kW system. Bondi Public School has also saved nearly $6,000 and 27 tonnes of emissions with its solar installation.

Some Aussie schools are going one step further by installing solar batteries. Last year, a boarding school in Rockhampton installed a Tesla Powerpack to store energy from its 100 kW solar array. This enables the school to store solar power generated during the day and use it after sunset.

The Powerpack is the commercial version of the Tesla Powerwall 2 home battery.