Case Study: Geraldine High School to break a school solar record

Geraldine High School (GHS) in rural South Canterbury is set to save power, money and break records with its recent installation of a large solar array system by Power Technology, under the New Zealand Solar Schools programme.

This case study originally appeared in our Term 3 issue!

An impressive 45kWp solar array with 150 solar modules was installed over the July school holidays. This system is not only the largest solar array installed to date on a South Island school but it’s also one of the largest school solar installations across the entire country.

The system, which is expected to be extended in the future, should initially deliver around 17 percent of the schools’ total electrical energy needs and promises to save the school over $400,000 in electricity costs at today’s rates over the life of the solar array.

Typically, New Zealand Solar Schools pay for the system with school funds or on finance arranged within the programme (or a mixture of both). The funds are then returned by way of savings in power costs.

However, in the case of GHS, the cost of implementation and joining the New Zealand Solar Schools programme was met by the work of the school and Gerald Pemberton, who belongs to the Temuka/Geraldine Rotary club and led the project.

Mr Pemberton told us: “We used data from previous smaller projects to ascertain the viability and yield for a much larger system namely the GHS project. Handing the project over, debt free to the school was our priority along with a legal memorandum of understanding as to where the money with the savings made would be spent.

“In our case, it is to be used for an enduring scholarship in either agriculture or science faculties. It is also to teach all students sustainability in this modern world we are living in. To fund the project Rotary and our local farmers group provided over half the cost of the project with the balance funded by the selling of solar panels (with naming rights) and other significant donations.”

With the savings generated by the solar power system and by allowing local community businesses to sponsor one or more of the 150 panels required solar modules, and working with the likes of Rotary and other organisations, the dream of installing a large solar array has become a reality.

The genius of this project is that it will not only educate the next generation; it will provide funding for a student scholarship with the money saved. So, for the students of Geraldine High School this project presents bright future opportunities!

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