The education sector have pioneered installing solar over the past decade as government incentives and education packages allow even most state schools to become energy independent. However, the Bundaberg Christian College has just installed the largest rooftop hybrid solar system in Australia consisting of 740 panels, producing up to 200kW of power. In comparison, your average household system ranges anywhere from 3.5 to 6 kW.
Mr. Keune, a teacher at the school stated, «Between the solar [and] the batteries... we've installed, we're looking at saving 80 per cent of our power, so we're looking at $80,000 to $100,000 savings per year."
What is so impressive is the school's choice of going hybrid and making the most of battery storage. Most people understand that if you do decide to go solar, you'll still have to pull energy from the grid at night. The idea is that your day time savings will offset your night time usage. However, this has left many prospective adopters of solar worried about whether they will actually get a return.
The Bundaberg Christian College instead opted to use battery backup to store the excess electricity produced during the day so that at night time, any appliances or lighting that continues to be used is still sourcing power from the system itself. This means the school has achieved true energy independence and is the reason they are able to enjoy significant savings on their bills.
The school said that now that they have proved the viability of going solar, a lot of schools have contacted them to enquire about hybrid systems. Mr. Keune said, "We've already had a couple of schools contact us because they've heard what we're doing and they're quite interested." Continuing on to say, «With the viability of solar and batteries, this is now coming into play as an option for a lot of schools and a lot of businesses.”
Mr. Keune failed to mention however the hybrid solar systems and as excellent alternative for residential property. While it is true that batteries are still quite expensive, the benefits are obvious. As well as this new systems have arrived on the scene which allows homeowners to install ‘battery ready’ systems that don't actually come with storage. This means prospective adopters of this rapidly improving technology can wait it out until the price drops to something more affordable.
With hybrid systems becoming more popular we could begin to see a larger number of projects similar to the one at the Bundaberg Christian College, meaning a lot more people can become truly energy independent at work, school and at home.