Two schools' classrooms in NSW will be powered solely by renewable energy, taking them off the grid and teaching students about sustainability.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and federal government are providing $370,000 in funding to St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School in Holsworthy and Dapto High School to trial a 100 per cent renewable power and smart technology program in their new classrooms.
Known as the Hivve, the modular classrooms – which are fully air-conditioned – integrate solar photovoltaic panels and real-time energy and air quality monitoring to generate energy and control their own usage.
According to ARENA, these classrooms will have a potential net energy generation of 7600-kilowatts per year, producing enough to also power other classrooms.
The data from the classrooms, which will be collected from a range of meters and sensors installed in the rooms, allows the school to manage their own energy demand and usage via dashboards.
St Christopher’s Principal Tony Boyd said the school and the students are excited about the program.
“It’s an exciting prospect where schools can be a generator of electricity,” Mr Boyd told Fairfax Media.
“We hope it's self-sustaining in its power usage and an effective learning space, more so, we hope to use it to tie-in with the kid’s science education and learning about sustainability.”
Federal environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg, who attended the launch of the program, said the trial had wide-ranging impacts.
“With the average Australian classroom consuming approximately 3800-kilowatt hours per year, these trial classrooms have the potential to reduce both energy consumption and costs in our schools,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“They have the ability to not only power themselves, but also generate enough power for two additional conventional classrooms, totalling approximately 11,4000-kilowatts per year.”
Mr Frydenberg said the program would not only cut the school’s daily costs but also act as an educational tool for the students.
“This is a great opportunity for our students to learn about energy production and consumption as well as various existing technology developments,” Mr Frydenberg said.
ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht added that it will reduce Australian schools’ reliance on the grid.
“This is a great way to get the next generation involved in renewables at an early age and educate them as to what the positive benefits will be as Australia continues its shift towards a renewable energy future,” Mr Frischknecht said.
“The success of the Hivve project could lead to a nationwide adoption of the modular classrooms, reducing reliance on the grid and even providing a significant amount of electricity back to the National Electricity Market.”
The trial will run over 12 months with the potential to rolled it out nationally.