• By Cam McNicol

Solar Power Generation at Riverview School Kerikeri


Introduction

In 2017 Riverview School carried out a case study analysis on the feasibility of installing solar panels on the roof of the school. This was led by the Board Chair Gerry Buxton with support from the principal Ken McLeay.

The principal reasons were to lower the school’s carbon footprint in an initiative called “Going for Gold” having won a “Silver Enviro Award” from the Northern Regional Council in 2015, and to reduce power costs. There was also the educational objective to reinforce the sustainability focus in the school for students and teachers.

Developing the Case

The school’s power bill exceeded the support from the government and was increasing at around 3% per year which was becoming a strain on finances, so several companies were contacted to establish whether power costs could be reduced by 20% per year or more so that money was available for the school’s primary function of student learning. There was also the further benefit of an Intelligent Management System enabling students to learn more about how the power was used in the school and how to conserve energy and hence reduce the school’s carbon footprint.

Implementation and Review

After six months the benefits exceeded expectation with double the savings on power which will allow the capital cost to be recovered in three to four years

A further benefit is that the addition of a solar power system would provide a platform for Riverview School students to learn more about reducing reliance on fossil-fuel generated power, and the benefits of non-fossil fuels to preserve our natural environment for future generations to enjoy. Programs will be developed using data provided by the Power Genius Intelligent Management System to inspire students to rise to higher levels to protect our environment and conserve energy.

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