Solar Schools: connecting investors with schools for a solar powered future

24 February 2014

Solar Schools is New Zealand’s only crowd-funding initiative to get solar power into schools. Schools get free power and curriculum support, and communities invest in their school’s future.

Launched by the Nelson Environment Centre and SolarCity, in collaboration with the Nelson Building Society (NBS), the partnership was designed to help get solar power into schools, by reducing or eliminating upfront costs.

Any school in New Zealand can register with Solar Schools. The partnership aims to reduce the upfront cost of solar installation, by providing a crowd-funding platform to raise money (if necessary). Families and businesses can invest in a clean energy future for their school, and receive a return on their investment.

Solar power makes sense for schools because they use power during the day. By producing their own power from the sun, schools can lower their long-term energy costs and decrease their carbon footprint.

The crowd-funding option helps schools get funding from their community for solar power. In Nelson and mid-Canterbury areas, NBS will advance a subsidised loan to schools.

Henley School in Nelson was the first school to join the programme, installing 60 15kW solar panels onto its roof last week.

The Solar Schools scheme connects schools that need crowd-funding with investors to get the project off the ground. As the solar project produces clean electricity, revenue is generated by saving power and selling excess to the grid.

As the solar project begins to earn revenue, the school’s investment is paid back with interest.

A curriculum programme is offered to schools, enabling students to have access to solar and energy information.

These energy education modules provide multi-disciplinary learning for students, and include web based monitoring technology, allowing schools to see how much power is generated and their carbon savings from anywhere in the school.

Find out more about the Solar Schools programme by clicking here.