Thursday, 01 November 2018 20:44

Brisbane classroom powered by solar, batteries in renewables trial

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A trial of renewable classrooms has been expanded to Queensland, with Brisbane high school students now being taught in Australia’s first solar- and battery-powered portable classroom.

The Australian Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency provided approximately $370,000 to Hivve Technologies to build three state-of-the-art pilot portable classrooms, including a prototype at Bracken Ridge State High School in Brisbane.

The Bracken Ridge portable classroom, developed in collaboration with Tesla, includes rooftop solar PV and a Tesla Powerwall 2 battery system that allows the classroom to operate 100% off the electricity grid.

ARENA says Hivve classrooms generate enough electricity to power themselves and a minimum of two other classrooms in a school, with excess power now able to be stored in the connected battery.

As part of the ARENA pilot, Hivve previously installed solar-powered classrooms in two NSW schools, St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School in Sydney’s south western suburb of Holsworthy and at Dapto High School in the Illawarra region.

Hivve classrooms feature energy efficient lighting, heating and air-conditioning, and allow real-time monitoring of temperature, air quality, energy metering as well as solar generation, battery capacity to manage energy demand. An in-classroom dashboard provides real-time data that gives teachers control of the classroom environment.

A Tesla battery was also installed for six weeks at Dapto High School to test the potential for batteries to be incorporated into the classroom.

ARENA chief executive Darren Miller said the successful Hiive trials in NSW and now Queensland opened the door for more Australian schools to switch to renewable energy.

“This solar-and-battery powered Hivve classroom at Bracken Ridge is both sustainable and self-sufficient as it powers itself while being completely off grid. The school avoids the significant upfront cost of grid connection while also saving on ongoing energy costs.

“Demand for energy at schools occurs during the school day, when the sun is shining. As such, there is a great opportunity to power classrooms via solar, backed up by battery storage.

“Many schools on the Eastern seaboard are currently at capacity on grid connection. This Australian-developed solution could help schools reduce costs and emissions, while also reducing reliance and demand on the grid.”

Hivve chief executive David Wrench said: “We are greatly encouraged by the robust trial results from the three schools operating with Hivve classrooms which confirms this Australian-developed technology has now made the transition from an idea to a commercial reality.

“The Hivve classroom concept has the potential to be a game changer in how our children are educated, providing a completely sustainable solution by powering all its own infrastructure - including air conditioning - while also feeding energy back into the school to run other classrooms.

“ARENA has been the perfect partner for this initiative demonstrating the innovative thinking around traditional energy challenges this government has been bringing.”

The ARENA-funded pilot will run for 12 months, with the accumulated performance data used to demonstrate how renewable energy could power schools and reduce schools’ energy costs, as part of ARENA’s focus on delivering secure, reliable and affordable electricity.

Following the success of the trial, Hivve is now expecting to roll out their classrooms in NSW and is in discussion with other states.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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