The National Solar Schools Program (NSSP) is helping Australian schools take practical action to tackle climate change by offering eligible schools the opportunity to compete for grant funding to install solar power systems, rainwater tanks and a range of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. Schools are able to improve their energy and water efficiency as well as reduce their ongoing energy costs. In particular, for schools with a mains power supply, surplus electricity generated by solar power systems on weekends and during school holidays may be able to be sold back to the electricity grid for extra electricity and greenhouse savings.
The objectives of the National Solar Schools Program are to:
- allow schools to:
- generate their own electricity from renewable sources
- improve their energy efficiency and reduce their energy consumption
- adapt to climate change by making use of rainwater collected from school roofs
- provide educational benefits for school students and their communities
- support the growth of the renewable energy industry.
Schools planning to install a minimum 2 kilowatt (kW) solar power system may apply for a grant of up to $50,000 (GST exclusive) for the installation of eligible items.
Schools planning to install less than 2kW or no solar power system may apply for a grant of up to $30,000 (GST exclusive) for the installation of eligible items.
Schools applying for funding from 1 July 2011 that have been approved to receive funding for solar power systems under any other Australian Government program since the National Solar Schools Program commenced on 1 July 2008 may apply for a grant of up to $15,000 for the installation of eligible items.
Schools that have received Green Vouchers for Schools funding will have this amount deducted from their National Solar Schools Program grant.
Part 3: ‘How we determine your eligibility and funding’ sets out in detail how your school’s maximum funding amount is determined.
Non-government schools are eligible for a grant under the National Solar Schools Program if they are in receipt of Australian Government Grants for Recurrent Expenditure under the Schools Assistance Act 2008.
Government schools are eligible for a grant under the National Solar Schools Program if they are officially recognised by their state or territory government education authority as a school providing primary and/or secondary education.
Educational institutions that are not eligible for a grant include, but are not limited to, kindergartens, early childhood centres, preschools, TAFE colleges and universities.
National Solar Schools Program grants are available for the installation of a range of renewable energy generation, water and energy efficiency measures, including:
- solar power systems
- rainwater tanks
- small wind turbines
- small hydro power generators
- solar hot water systems
- energy efficient lighting
- ceiling fans
- door and window draught seals
- sensors, timers and thermostats
- automatic door closers and automatic sliding doors
- double glazing
- shade awnings.
National Solar Schools Program applications will be assessed against three criteria – value for money, environmental benefit and educational benefit.
A merit-based, competitive, assessment process will be used to determine which applications best meet these criteria and will be offered funding. Schools will need to provide information in their applications that demonstrates how they meet each of the three assessment criteria:
- For value for money, schools will need to have obtained competitive pricing for the measures they propose to install with their National Solar Schools Program grant. One way to ensure that your school gets value for money for its project is to obtain several quotes.
- For environmental benefit, the assessment process will consider the size of the solar power system to be installed with the grant funding, and the level of solar radiation available in the school’s geographic area. Applications that include rainwater tanks will be scored on how much water can be harvested. The environmental benefit of energy efficiency items will be assessed using a range of methods. The application will be more competitive if the school has recently undertaken an energy efficiency audit.
- For educational benefit, applications will be more competitive where they strongly demonstrate how the proposed measures will assist students to improve their understanding of climate change and renewable energy. This would include linkages with relevant elements of the school curriculum. Schools that are registered with the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) would be well placed to meet this criterion, although this is not essential.
All eligible applications submitted in a funding round will be assessed against these criteria. Additionally, to allow funding to be directed to schools in most need, applications from schools located in remote or low socio-economic areas will receive additional weighting.
The National Solar Schools Program commenced on 1 July 2008 and continues until 30 June 2013. Schools lodging an application in the 2012-13 funding round must finalise their works and reporting requirements by 30 June 2013.
The 2011-12 National Solar Schools Program application round will close on 30 September 2011.