Katoomba student’s sortie for solar in NSW schools

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Estelle Dee, a year 10 student at Katoomba High School in the New South Wales (NSW) Blue Mountains, is calling on NSW Minister for Energy and Environment, Matt Kean, to “install LED lighting and as many solar panels as possible in every public school in NSW within a three-year-period.” 

Dee started a petition with a goal to reach five thousand signautres, she already has close to three-thousand. Dee cites a Government-funded report from the School Energy Productive Program, which found that not only is NSW spending way too much money on energy, the report estimated it could be saving $45 million annually. 

The report says the case for such an outlay is strong, estimating 817,500 new LED light fittings and the implementation of 69 MW of additional solar capacity should do the trick. 

Last year, the precocious Dee chaired a panel at the Nation Energy Summit 2019. In her opening remarks Dee fired back at talking-heads like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt, who criticised the global school-strikes, suggesting students should go back to school and learn. “So before these adults criticise us for going on strike,” said Dee, “maybe they should learn to stop wasting so much money.” 

Of course, it isn’t just money we’d be saving, but carbon emissions too. “It’s a no-brainer,” Dee told the Blue Mountains Gazette (BMG), “solar batteries could also be used in school holidays to store up excess energy.” 

A spokeswoman from the NSW Department of Education told BMG that more than 1600 of the 2200 NSW public schools have some number of solar panels on site. “The Department of Education supports sustainability in schools and has been installing solar systems in school buildings for more than a decade,” she said. 

The report estimates the full outlay would come at an estimated cost of “between $280-320 million with a simple payback period between 6.45 and 7.35 years.” Dee believes the cost of installing these solar panels can be paid for by the NSW Climate Change Fund and aided by kicking up funds from commerical sources. 

To read more and sign Dee’s petition, click here