Students at a school in Perth’s southern suburbs noticed something a little different about their buildings earlier this year. New paint? New plants? Nope… new solar panels!
The team here at Perdaman Advanced Energy (PAE) has installed a new solar photovoltaic (PV) system on the rooftops of Thornlie Christian College’s main sports hall, science block and library.
School students, staff and community were pleased with their 317 new solar PV panels and the whole fleet of “behind the scenes” electrical equipment, as we explained it to them. There are 33 solar panels on the library, 132 panels on the science block and a whopping 152 on the sports hall.
With all these sunlight collectors, the system produces up to nearly 100 kW of solar power to help meet the College’s electricity needs, reducing the amount of electricity that the school draws from the main electricity grid by nearly 30%.
By converting the sun’s energy into usable electricity, the College will be generating around 156,274 kWh of renewable energy each year. They’ll avoid 97 tonnes of CO2 that would usually be produced, equivalent to planting more than 62 trees!
We explained to the school that while the solar panels have been basking gloriously since the mid-year holidays, the system was only energised (switched on) a little later. For a system this large, there are a lot of regulations from the network operator (Western Power) and special equipment required to make sure that the plant is in harmony with the broader electricity network. Any electricity generated from the sun that the school doesn’t use will be “exported” to the main grid, for everyone else in the community to use.
Installing solar PV at a school not only makes great financial, social and environmental sense for the College’s management; it’s a great learning opportunity!
High school and even younger students may be interested to learn that each solar panel is made of silicon and generates up to 315 W of power, and that the energy that they produce is DC (direct current), meaning that we need to use specialised units called inverters to convert this DC into AC electricity (alternating current) – which is the type that most of our appliances use.
Did you know that the inverters are about the size of a large backpack and have a plastic shell to enclose the electronics? They’re also internet-connected, which means…
Students will be able to log in to an online portal to see how much energy the solar system is generating in real time! This software is called SMA Sunny Portal and will let users know how much energy we’ve generated – and even alert them when something goes wrong via email. Now that’s smart!
The College is very proud of its new solar system, and PAE wishes to thank the installers from Wilco Electrical; Canadian Solar who supplied the solar panels; SMA the inverter manufacturer; and Solarmatrix (now BayWa r.e.) who supplied other important components and grid engineering services.
We at PAE are happy to have helped this school “sip from the sun” with low cost, renewable energy!