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Amaroo School to gleam under ACT's largest rooftop solar system

Amaroo School will gleam beneath the territory's largest rooftop solar system when school returns next term.

Almost 2000 large solar panels will be installed across the school's buildings, producing 600kW of power to be fed into the ACT electricity grid.

The school is leasing its roof space to solar energy company Solar Choice and will power the equivalent of about 175 Canberra houses each year.

Environment Minister Simon Corbell, Education Minister Joy Burch and Solar Choice managing director Angus Gemmell announce the Amaroo School solar display.

Environment Minister Simon Corbell, Education Minister Joy Burch and Solar Choice managing director Angus Gemmell announce the Amaroo School solar display. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The 20-year lease will also generate $30,000 a year in school funding.

Solar Choice managing director Angus Gemmell said a team of 30 contractors would install the panels over the next fortnight while students were on school holidays, before solar inverters were installed the week after.

Mr Gemmell, who will soon oversee construction of the Majura Valley solar farm, said the school's utility-scale panels would be about 25 per cent bigger than the panels installed on regular houses.

"We have large skillion, north-facing roofs that are much like a ski slope to the north. The panels can be perfectly flush-mounted, they won't need tilt fronts," he said.

"There's no asbestos in the roof. These are young buildings. The lifetime of a solar array is about 25 years, so we didn't want to choose a site that could be potentially refurbished within 10 to 15 years.

"For the thousands of students, this will be an inspiring story for them."

ACT environment minister Simon Corbell said the project was one of the first large-scale lease agreements set up between the ACT government and a private solar developer.

He said the installation was part of a broader rollout of solar technology in the territory, which had seen rooftop solar capacity jump from less than one megawatt in early 2009 to about 45 megawatts today.

"As we head to a 90 per cent renewable energy target, rooftop solar is going to play an increasingly important role," he said.

"Medium and large-scale rooftop solar is the growth market now for PV [solar power] in Australia and I'm very excited to see Amaroo sharing in those benefits."

Amaroo School principal Julie Cooper said the school, which is also home to a wind turbine, would make the most of the money injected into the school via the roof space lease.

She said the school tried to foster an understanding of the environment and sustainable living from a young age.

"The opportunity to develop the children's understanding of what it means to live in a sustainable environment and to lead a sustainable life is really important," she said.

ACT education minister Joy Burch wanted to see sustainability "lived and breathed" in Canberra's public schools and hoped to see similar partnerships established in the future.

Click here to view a fly-through of the project.

Source: The Canberra Times

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