The largest solar energy system on a school in New Zealand was officially opened in a ceremony at Kaitaia College. Te Tai Tokerau MP, Hon. Kelvin Davis, unveiled a plaque to acknowledge completion of the 368-panel project which is spread across the rooftop of multiple buildings on the school campus.
The project, a partnership between Kaitaia College and SuperPower Technologies, will have significant financial benefits for the school and act as a springboard for students and the community to building understanding about solving local energy problems.
Kaitaia College Principal Jack Saxon says “The Kura is working with SuperPower Technologies and other community groups, including Muriwhenua iwi, to develop an integrated curriculum around renewable energy and are also planning to integrate energy monitoring within the junior curriculum, focusing on energy conservation.
“Our ākonga (students) lead community projects around developing solutions to local challenges and one of the most exciting elements currently being scoped with a local power provider is the potential for the school to send excess power back to the grid and have their whānau access this” Mr Saxon says.
The 101 kWp, 368 panel system is 25 times larger than an average household system and is spread across the roofs of the College’s gymnasium, library, science, and technology blocks.
SuperPower Technologies have arranged finance for Kaitaia College to purchase the system. The system will be cashflow positive for the school from day one, saving the school tens of thousands of dollars over the 10-year payback period. Over the 25-year guaranteed life of the system Kaitaia College will save hundreds of thousands of dollars based on current consumption and electricity prices.
Board Director of The Sustainable Energy Association NZ (SEANZ), Dwayne Crocker, speaking at the opening, says “Solar is the perfect solution for schools, allowing them to divert money spent on power bills into education and resources for students – it’s a win-win.
“SEANZ commends SuperPower Technologies for this ground-breaking project, working with a low-decile school and using a unique finance model to bring immediate savings and significant long-term financial benefits to the school,” Mr Crocker says.
Project Lead from SuperPower Technologies, Hadleigh Fisher, says: “We are extremely proud to be part of this project, especially working with Jack (the principal) and Board members who equally see solar not just for its financial benefits but more a catalyst for change in renewable energy. Having students actively involved to help the school further reduce its carbon footprint and overall power consumption, then take what they have learnt back into the community, is all extremely exciting.”