Bishop Michael McCarthy, Jack Hooper from GEM Energy and Shalom College principal Dan McMahon at the school's solar farm.
Bishop Michael McCarthy, Jack Hooper from GEM Energy and Shalom College principal Dan McMahon at the school's solar farm.

TOP MARKS: How school switched to 100% green energy

Shalom College has aced its plan to go solar and increase the school's facilities with the official opening and blessing of two big projects on Thursday.

These projects are the school's solar farm, which has a 810KW tracking solar system and Tesla battery power, and the Waterford Building.

Principal Dan McMahon described it as a fantastic day for the school community.

The solar farm contractor, GEM Energy CEO Jack Hooper, said the system had more than 2000 solar panels and almost enough energy to power an entire suburb.

"The process involved looking at the school's energy consumption, considering its growth over the future of what energy saving measures we could take, including LED lighting, and then designing a solar system that will off-set the energy consumption for the whole school, will also generate enough energy to store in a battery," he said.

"The battery will come in and support the school when the solar was unable to and also cover the overnight consumption."

Bishop Michael McCarthy with Shalom College principal Dan McMahon blessing the school's solar farm.
Bishop Michael McCarthy with Shalom College principal Dan McMahon blessing the school's solar farm.

 

Mr Hooper said Shalom and some other Catholic Education schools in the Diocese of Rockhampton were the only ones in Australia that had achieved 100 per cent renewable energy.

"That's achieved through offsetting all of its own energy requirements as well as being contracted directly to a wind farm to procure the remaining energy requirements," he said.

"It is a significant achievement - something that's taken quite a while."

Mr Hooper said Shalom and Catholic Education were showing corporate leadership.

"The generation coming through today are very conscious of the environment and sustainability and students want to see their schools being better stewards of the environment and the land.

"And that's exactly what they're doing here."

Bishop Michael McCarthy, Jack Hooper from GEM Energy and Shalom College principal Dan McMahon at the school's solar farm.
Bishop Michael McCarthy, Jack Hooper from GEM Energy and Shalom College principal Dan McMahon at the school's solar farm.

 

Mr Hooper and GEM Energy are proud of the Shalom College installation.

"This has been largest rollout of solar storage of its type anywhere in Australia," Mr Hooper said.

"And it all started here at the Bundaberg Christian College with the first solar battery system that was done on a school back in 2015.

"Delivering close to $200m worth of solar projects now through Queensland, I can easily say this is the system that we're most proud of."

Mr McMahon said for the school to be pretty well 100 per cent renewable energy reliant was a good sign to the students and leaders of the future that "anything is possible".

He said the business case made sense and Shalom was "blessed" to have the space which allowed them to create a solar farm.

The Shalom College solar farm official blessing was held today.
The Shalom College solar farm official blessing was held today.

 

With regards to the opening Waterford Building, he said it would facilitate teaching and learning in a modern style and different way.

The building would be predominantly used by Year 7 and 8 classes.

He said the varied spaces and visibility afforded by the design of the building were some of the assets of the Waterford Building.

With these two projects now completed, Mr McMahon said there was always more projects having just approved a new master plan for the next 10 years.

He said that would include about $35m worth of works if it all came through.

But his biggest role was to ensure the culture of the school was positive; that students felt safe and secure while having access to good facilities and were well managed was paramount.

Mr McMahon said while buildings were nice, they weren't as important as the culture of a school.

 

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