Schools flick the switch to solar and save $1m

Cutting the solar cake to celebrate the energy efficiency rollout at Gilroy Catholic College, Castle Hill (Supplied)

Almost one quarter of Catholic schools in Sydney’s west are switching to solar power and energy efficient lighting, under a program tipped to save the schools up to $1 million a year. Source: Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.

The energy efficiency program was announced on World Environment Day, June 5, at Gilroy College at Castle Hill, with students, staff and families celebrating the commissioning of its 92-kilowatt solar PV system.

The program will be rolled out by energy services business Verdia and involves the installation of 4,286 solar panels and 16,942 LED lights across 19 Catholic primary and high schools throughout Western Sydney. The new LED lighting will provide better lighting levels in classrooms and an improved learning environment for students.

Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta executive director Greg Whitby said the program would be a working demonstration to students and the school community about the sustainable generation of power.

“Our energy bills have increased by about 30 per cent over the past three years and that’s money we would rather invest in the education of our students,” Mr Whitby said.

“This program will cut our electricity bills by almost 35 per cent. That’s a great saving for our whole school community.

“It’s a practical demonstration of renewable energy in action for our students as well, so we’re very hopeful it will help us develop greater interest and passion in core STEM subjects.”

Verdia chief executive Paul Peters said the solar PV systems installed across the 19 schools would produce enough electricity to power about 525 typical homes.

“It will be like having a 1.3-megawatt solar power generator plugged into the schools,” Mr Peters said.

“The solar PV systems will produce emissions-free energy on-site – cutting their grid-fed supply by about one quarter.”

Ten schools have just completed the installation of their solar PV systems and LED lights, with the remaining schools due to complete their installation before the start of the 2020 school year.

PHOTO: Gilroy Catholic College principal Cheryl Merryweather cuts a solar panel cake, surrounded by students, Verdia's Paul Peters, Hills Shire Mayor Councillor Michelle Byrne and Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta's Mark Holyoake.


Western Sydney schools cut $1 million from energy costs with solar and LED (Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta)

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