Kaitaia College – catalyst for change!
This year Kaitaia College broke new sustainability ground with a project to create the country’s largest solar powered school. When this far north New Zealand low-decile school, partnered with SuperPower Technologies
This year Kaitaia College broke new sustainability ground with a project to create the country’s largest solar powered school. When this far north New Zealand low-decile school, partnered with SuperPower Technologies the priority was not only to optimise the school’s energy efficiency but to also stimulate student and community awareness of energy conservation.
Kaitaia College provides education for Year 9 to 13 students and more than 70 per cent of its students are Māori. Not only did this project involve all the students and wider school community from the very beginning it also promised to provide significant financial benefits for the school, moreover it acted as a springboard for students and the school community to develop an understanding of how to solve local energy problems.
The project was reported to have begun when the school, alongside SuperPower Technologies and other community groups, including Muriwhenua iwi, developed an integrated curriculum around renewable energy. From this, a plan was formed to integrate energy monitoring within the junior curriculum, focusing on energy conservation.
SuperPower Technologies confirmed that they arranged finance for Kaitaia College to purchase the solar power system which was completed in early 2019. The 368-panel project is spread across the rooftops of multiple buildings on the school campus, the 101 kWp, 368 panel system is 25 times larger than an average household system and is spread across the roofs of the College’s gymnasium, library, science, and technology blocks.
The system promised to be cashflow positive for the school from day one and save the school tens of thousands of dollars over a 10-year payback period.
Ben Hancock the acting principal for Kaitaia College confirmed: “We save approx. $1000 a month when evened out over the year, this is after we have taken the lease payments out. This is a saving of $12-15,000 per year.”
Project Leader from SuperPower Technologies, Hadleigh Fisher added: “We are extremely proud to be part of this project, especially working with the principal and board members who equally see solar not just for its financial benefits but more a catalyst for change in renewable energy. Having students actively involved to help the school further reduce its carbon footprint and overall power consumption, then take what they have learnt back into the community, is all extremely exciting.”