College gives masterclass in ‘ecological conversion’

Shalom College captains Brigette McMahon and Oliver Collins with principal Dan McMahon showcase their solar farm (The Catholic Leader)

A Catholic school in Queensland now boasts the largest solar farm operating at a private education facility in the Southern Hemisphere. Source: The Catholic Leader.

The $3 million project at Shalom Catholic College in Bundaberg is reducing huge power bills, storing power each day, and providing a model of “ecological conversion” other schools and businesses can emulate.

The project fits perfectly with the Church’s commitment to provide an authentic witness as responsible stewards of creation in caring for the earth, an idea that Pope Francis articulated in his encyclical, Laudato Si’.

Located in the Rockhampton diocese, Bundaberg lies below the Tropic of Capricorn, and enjoys year-round sunshine.

Even in the middle of the day when every air conditioner in the school is running, the Shalom solar farm generates enough power from its 810 kw tracking solar system to export to the grid.

At a cost of about $1m, 20 Tesla batteries enable the school to store power overnight and off-set 100 per cent of the school’s energy requirements.

Looking online at Shalom’s power usage, principal Dan McMahon can see at a glance the immediate savings.

“In February 2020, electricity cost us $30,600. In February this year it cost us $11,500,” he said.

Schools across Queensland are also exploring renewable energy options.

Brisbane Catholic Education is driving its commitment to “ecological conversion” in schools through a project called Living Laudato Si’ – Energy Reduction and Management.

Townsville Catholic Education has been installing solar panels on its schools for several years, and last year signed up for a Tesla battery storage project on the way to having its schools powered 100 per cent from renewable sources.


A glimpse into a sustainable future ahead of Laudato Si’ week this month (By Mark Bowling, The Catholic Leader)

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