Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust manager Scott Willis
explains how solar power works to Waitati School pupils
Sylvia Beaumer (7) and Tamati Whitaker (8). Photo by
Waitati School hopes to capitalise on the 2000 annual
sunshine hours that gleam down on Otago each year by installing
solar panels to generate its own electricity.
Principal Heidi Hayward said the school's board of trustees
had officially asked the Ministry of Education for permission
to establish solar power generation at the school, and was
awaiting a response.
If the project was approved, the school would be the first in
Otago to operate using solar power, Miss Hayward said.
The school has proposed spending up to $20,000 on the
project, but Miss Hayward said it would pay for itself in a
very short time.
The school spends about $7000 a year on electricity, and it
was believed the solar panels would generate enough
electricity to cover most of that cost.
Any electricity that was left over - such as the electricity
generated at weekends and on summer evenings when pupils were
not at school - could be sold back to the grid, she said.
''It's a no-brainer, really.
''That's money we can spend on the kids' education.''
Although the school is waiting for ministry permission to go
ahead with the project, it hopes to experience the benefits
of solar power as soon as September, thanks to the Blueskin
Resilient Communities Trust.
The trust operates its office in the school's former dental
clinic and is raising funds to install six 1.5kw solar panels
on its roof so it can generate its own electricity.
Trust manager Scott Willis said each panel could generate
1.5kw of electricity an hour on a sunny day, and any surplus
electricity would be given to the school.
''The electricity we produce will primarily be used here in
the office. But of course, on a sunny day, we can't use all
the electricity, no matter how much we try.
''So the excess will be used by the school.''
He believed the excess electricity from the panels could save
the school hundreds of dollars on its electricity bill each
The panels had already been bought, but the $1600 needed to
install the panels and related equipment, was still being
raised, Mr Willis said.
It was hoped the panels would be operational and generating
electricity by the beginning of next month.
''We are desperate to have them up in time for the Waitati
School sesquicentennial in September,'' he said.
The project is just one of many the trust is working on,
including the construction of a community wind farm,
involvement in Cosy Homes, climate change planning, and home
The Green Party announced last month it would invest $20
million over three years, to help about 500 schools across
the country install solar power and save money on their power
Green Party energy spokesman Gareth Hughes said it would
result in 6.7MW of total installed capacity and achieve
annual savings of $1.64 million over the 25-year lifespan of
''Solar in Schools has the added benefit of reducing
greenhouse gas emissions and educating students, staff and
the wider community about energy efficiency and clean