NSW seeks proposals for renewables rollout across 2,200 public schools


The New South Wales (NSW) government’s Smart Energy Schools Pilot Project kicked off in 2020 as a testing ground to find the most effective way to deploy renewable energy across NSW public schools. The first two stages of the project tested the use of solar and battery storage systems along with Virtual Power Plant (VPP) technology across 60 public schools.

Now the NSW government has opened an Expressions of Interest (EOI) process for proposals to finance, deliver and operate renewable energy systems across 2,200 public schools across the state.

School Infrastructure NSW, which manages the Smart Energy Schools Pilot Project, believes such a solution could be facilitated as part of a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), though it is open to alternative models. For instance, proposals may include the management of electric vehicle charging or other such behind the meter solutions.

A project of this size could have a significant impact if integrated with emerging vehicle-to-grid technology. According to a statement from the NSW government, this EOI process could prove the largest exercise of its kind in Australia – the largest in terms of the number of potential behind the meter sites, and in terms of volume.

“With roof space equivalent to around 500 Sydney Cricket Grounds available across 2,200 NSW public schools, this exercise will help us harness the power potential of our schools,” said NSW Treasurer and Minister for Energy Matt Kean.

However, Kean noted the necessity to “be smart about how we finance and operate these resources so we maximise the financial returns for NSW and help make the electricity system more secure.”

NSW Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell added that the ultimate goal of the project is to “reduce our state’s carbon emissions, cut school electricity costs and help students to learn more about renewable energy.”

The NSW government asks that non-binding proposals be submitted by the end of 2022, with shortlisted respondents to be invited into a final offer process in 2023. Interested parties can register their proposals here.

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