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Old school brings new hope with clean energy

Hope School Principal Dave Pritchard with brothers 8 year-old Cam (L) and Zachary Fitzsimmons (10) as 20 solar panels are fitted to the school's main class room block by solarcity. Photo: Dave Hansford

Nelson, 17 July, 2015 - One of New Zealand’s oldest primary schools is embracing the latest technology to save money on powering its classrooms and help combat climate change.

Hope School, which opened on the outskirts of Nelson in 1852, will soon be using the sun’s energy to generate some of its electricity. Yesterday, the nation’s leading solar power company solarcity installed a 20-panel solar system on the school’s roof. It is expected the 5 kW system will cut the school’s carbon emissions by more than one tonne every year.

“Nelson started free education back in the 1800s and now we’re helping lead the way when it comes to using and learning about clean energy,” says principal Dave Pritchard.

“We know that climate change seems like an impossible challenge for the next generation. Now with solar we have the beginning of a plan.

“The money we save on power means we can spend more on teaching and learning. Solar makes a lot of sense for schools as the sun is generating power at just the time we need it. It makes even more sense when you live in sunny Nelson.”

Along with teaching materials produced by the Nelson Environment Centre the system will also supply real time data that can be used to help students learn about climate change, clean energy and energy efficiency. Using online monitoring, the 90 students and four teachers will be able to track the performance of the system, the school’s energy use and the carbon savings.

Founder and CEO of solarcity Andy Booth says the company has installed solar systems on 22 other schools around the country, including Nelson’s Henley School.

“Schools, alongside many communities are facing the highest power bills on record this year, and have a vital role to play in educating the next generation,” he says.

”Each and every time a new generation has gone to school it has stood up to meet the challenges we have faced as a nation. Today Hope School is providing inspiration to its students while helping us fight against climate change to ensure a decent future for tomorrow’s families.”

solarcity is making it possible for New Zealanders to take control of their power bills by installing solar with zero upfront costs.