Australian parents are calling on the Federal government to fund solar and batteries for every Australian school and early childhood centre, as part of the nation’s economic recovery.
The group of concerned parents formed Australian Parents for Climate Action in 2019 and now has more than 6000 members and 26 local groups around Australia.
Solar our Schools (SOS), an initiative proposed by Australian Parents for Climate Action (AP4CA), calls for a direct federal government investment to install solar panels and batteries in all schools and early childhood centres. They say privately-owned schools and early childhood centres should be offered the grants based on a means test.
“Australia needs a clean-energy-driven COVID-19 economic recovery that improves our schools and communities, creates thousands of clean jobs and cuts our greenhouse emissions,” says Suzie Brown, National Director and Founder, AP4CA. “Installing solar and batteries will slash energy bills, so schools and early childhood centres will have more money for better learning resources and facilities.”
Research recently released as part of the Beyond Zero Emissions Million Jobs Plan reveals installing solar panels and batteries on an additional 4000 Australian schools would save $114,000 in annual energy bills per large school and $12,700 per small school, create 6,870 jobs in the renewable energy industry, and save 395,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
BZE estimates approximately 42 percent of the 9503 schools both public and private in Australia don’t currently have solar and/or batteries, or have insufficient solar capabilities.
Australian schools running on solar energy enjoy huge savings on their energy bills. Fyans Park Primary School in Geelong, Victoria, installed a 94KW solar system in 2019 after receiving a Victorian state government grant of $150,000.
They also installed two Tesla Powerwall batteries, which allow the school to use the solar power to run their night-time power needs. As a result, they will save around $10,000-$15,000 per year on their energy bills, which will go back into school resourcing.
AP4CA launched the SOS campaign online, with an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The group’s thousands of members, represented in every state and territory, will seek support for the proposal from their MPs and Senators and from relevant ministers.
Brown said the SOS initiative would bridge the gaps of the solar grant programs currently run by states and territories. “Current grant programs do not provide for enough schools and early childhood centres and private schools are generally not included.”.
“Schools struggle with the administrative burden of applying for grants and fundraising enough funds for solar — we’re calling on the federal government to remove these burdens and make solar and batteries possible for all schools and centres,” Brown said. “Solar our Schools is an opportunity for our government to shine on our communities, right across Australia.”