Utilise recently installed stage 1 of a 110kW system for Solway College under the Utilise Power Supply Agreement.
While the financial case stood up well with long-term electricity cost savings, there were many other compelling aspects to the business case decision.
The school was keen to demonstrate to its future leaders its commitment to sustainability by making the move to renewable energy. Part of that leadership was to play its part in meeting the government’s vision for our country and its targets of being carbon net zero by 2050 and a 100 percent renewable electricity supply by 2030.
In particular, Solway College saw it as important to model to its students a commitment to tackling climate change, given the importance of showing our young people practical ways that it can be reduced. The Utilise solar system is able to do just that. The school already has a Kaitiaki programme related to restoration of native fauna and the installation of renewable energy demonstrates the same principles.
In addition, having solar generation at the school enables it to be integrated into its curriculum. There are many strong voices in the student community around climate change and the solar system will become a learning tool. Rather than teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics as separate and discrete subjects, the solar system integrates them as a real-world application. The system monitoring allows students to see the benefits in real time.
In summary, the Utilise solar system deployed at Solway College not only provides financial benefits, but it also helps our nation by contributing to New Zealand’s clean energy future and enhances the school’s role of leadership in the community. It models the school’s environmental credentials, providing a real-world example of renewable energy and sustainability in action that augments the Solway College curriculum, becoming a symbol to its student and parent communities of practical progress in slowing climate change.