Taranaki’s Inglewood High School is in the throes of a one-year New Zealand-first pilot aimed at energy conservation and renewable energy generation expected to reduce the school’s electricity demand from the national grid by 15% in 12 months.
The $100,000 pilot, which began at the co-educational secondary school based in the tiny pioneering town 15 minutes’ drive from New Plymouth in July 2007, could - if successful - be replicated through the remaining Taranaki secondary schools from 2009.
Believed to be the first of its type ever attempted in New Zealand, the Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Generation Pilot Project is funded by Venture Taranaki and the Ministry for the Environment’s Sustainable Management Fund, with assistance from Enviroschools, Powerco and EcoInnovation.
Using a combination of conservation initiatives, renewable energy generation technologies installation, and the integration of conservation and renewable energy subjects into the classroom curriculum, the project’s major aim is to kickstart a ‘multiplier effect’ by encouraging tandem energy conservation in students’ Inglewood homes.
Inglewood High School and its 392 student families have become the national spotlight in the twin energy challenges facing New Zealand. This country lags the developed world in energy conservation and the uptake of renewable energy generation technologies. The project aims to support the Government’s draft New Zealand Energy Strategy to 2050.
The pilot involves:
- Promoting conservation within the school environment by installing timers and insulation on hot water cylinders, replacing bulbs with low energy types, installing switch timers on lights, replacing standard desktop PCs with LCD-screened laptops;
- Change classroom behaviour to encourage turning off lights and electrical equipment after use;
- Using check meters to demonstrate electricity usage and savings over time, both in the classroom and in the home;
- Promoting conservation opportunities in the home, targeting the parent body;
- Installing a photovoltaic system (solar panels);
- Installing solar hot water generation systems;
- Installing a wind turbine;
- Installing a demonstration model micro hydro turbine.
Assuming the pilot is successful, Venture Taranaki will offer the programme to Taranaki secondary schools, thereby extending the programme’s reach from 400 students to more than 6000, plus families and whanau.