Genesis Energy has expanded its Schoolgen programme and the first four South Island schools have been selected to receive solar panels and support, writes Maggie Twaddle.
Last month, Sumner Primary School, Banks Avenue School, Middleton Grange School, and Lake Tekapo School became the first South Island schools to be officially launched into Genesis Energy’s Schoolgen programme.
The Christchurch schools were chosen following a rigorous selection process that required them to make a formal application and presentation to the Schoolgen Team. Each gets a two kilowatt (kW) array of the latest Auria thin film solar panels and will receive on-going support to integrate Schoolgen into their school’s Curriculum Delivery Programme.
Bringing solar energy to life
Developed by Genesis Energy, the Schoolgen programme provides a range of free teaching resources that are linked to the New Zealand Curriculum and explore electricity generation, solar energy, photovoltaic (PV) systems, and energy efficiency. Participating schools receive a 2kW PV system, at no cost to the school. This allows them to generate a portion of their electricity from the sun, and to teach their students about solar energy and energy efficiency.
There’s a dedicated website (www.schoolgen.co.nz) where real-time generation data from the solar panels on the Schoolgen schools is displayed. Specialised Schoolgen Environmental Educators are available to help students and teachers learn about renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The scheme operates a ‘Buddy’ programme where schools that have received the solar panels link up with neighbouring schools and share their data.
The Schoolgen Team – comprising Maggie Twaddle and Rob Duff – also organise ‘Energy Cluster Days’, which are an extension of the ‘Buddy’ programme and neighbouring schools are invited to select a group of students and teacher representatives to learn more about solar energy and energy efficiency.
Special ‘battery bank’ package
The latest new initiative with the Schoolgen programme is a special package for the Lake Tekapo School, that will not only provide the school with solar panels but also a battery bank. This will give it the ability to run essential services independent of the national electricity grid.
Genesis Energy’s Chief Executive, Albert Brantley is fully behind the Schoolgen initiative as it plays a significant role in the organisation’s community investment initiatives.
“The Lake Tekapo School is the emergency centre for the community and by giving them this facility we are not just supporting the school but the community as a whole.
“The back-up battery system will allow the school to run ‘off the grid’ in times of energy crisis or shortage for up to five days. As a company we are keen to bring solar energy to life for children across New Zealand. They will one day be our leaders and decision makers and so it is important that they understand the role renewable energy will play in both their personal lives and in the bigger picture for our country,”
The launch of Schoolgen into Christchurch was celebrated at Sumner School with students performing an entertaining solar-themed assembly. It was attended by students, teachers and principals from the other Schoolgen schools. The Ministry of Education and key members of the community also attended.
The inclusion of these four new schools into the Schoolgen programme brings the total number with solar panels to 46. While they’re all doing great things, it’s important to remember that many of the programme’s resources are freely available. Irrespective of whether or not they are directly involved in the programme, every school in the country can join the Schoolgen community by visiting the website and using the free teaching resources.
MAGGIE TWADDLE LEADS THE SCHOOLGEN TEAM AND IS A TEACHER AND FORMER PRIMARY SCHOOL PRINCIPAL.
© INTERFACE Magazine, August 2012
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