Multiple regions Smart Energy Schools Pilot Program
Solar arrays and battery storage systems have been installed on 61 NSW schools (over two tranches) through the Smart Energy Schools Pilot Project, supplying up to 50 percent of the schools’ energy needs. NSW Public Works leads the work as part of the Cooler Classrooms Program funded by School Infrastructure NSW.
The objective of the Smart Energy School Pilot Program is to assess the potential benefits and costs to the state of the large-scale deployment of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, batteries, and demand response initiatives in NSW public schools.
The earlier tranches utilised solar PV and battery storage to supply new air-conditioning at 28 grid-constrained schools.
Later tranches focused on the potential benefits and costs to the state of the large-scale deployment of solar PV systems and batteries as a virtual powerplant (VPP) at 29 schools.
School Infrastructure NSW (SINSW) intends to expand this trial at an additional 18 schools under this Tranche 2a Pilot Project.
- 79 NSW public schools from Coraki to the north, Gerogery to the south and as far west as Lake Wyangan, and many points in between.
- 2.1 megawatts of photo voltaic and 3.3 megawatts of battery storage, supplying up to 50% of the schools’ energy requirements.
- The virtual powerplant (VPP) will allow the schools to use the solar for their energy needs, to charge the battery and to export and import energy to the grid.
NSW Public Works (NSWPW) provided consultant engagement and management and project and contract management services for the project.
Construction safety was a critical success factor, with all work occurring on fully operational schools. NSWPW worked closely with the project team and contractor to identify and manage project risks, which included managing crane lifts, storage on site, working at heights and with electrical infrastructure.
61 of the systems have been commissioned with a further 18 being delivered as part of the final tranche of work.
This project further expands NSWPW solar capability, building on the rooftop photovoltaic procurement and delivery legacy developed through the Cooler Classrooms Program.
The most innovative part of the project is the VPP operations, the VPP operator aggregates all participating schools’ solar and battery to trade the energy generated and stored on the energy market. Only by working together are the systems substantial enough to participate.
Energy moves into and out of the grid or supplies school loads like any other home solar and battery system. With the use of energy management technologies, the VPP operator will buy low and sell high.
Schools will charge batteries when it’s cheap to do so, either from solar or from the grid, and discharge when energy is most expensive.
Even if power doesn’t leave the school, the fact that the school’s energy needs substantially drop means that the grid is less burdened, consequently creating value for School Infrastructure and the grid.