Two Rocks: Atlantis Beach Baptist College first school to become sustainable off electricity grid

Atlantis Beach Baptist College is off the electricity grid.
Atlantis Beach Baptist College is off the electricity grid.

A TWO Rocks school is the first in Australia to become completely sustainable off the electricity grid with a fully functional solar power and battery system.

Atlantis Beach Baptist College started in 2017 and has been off-grid, initially using diesel generators with the goal to install a sustainable energy system this year.

It recently engaged the services of Sydney-based Upstream Energy, which specialises in delivering sustainable energy solutions for the commercial sector.

Upstream Energy managing director Nathan Begley said it was the first school in Australia to have zero carbon emissions whilst also being independent of the electricity grid.

Mr Begley said their clean energy solution for the school would “deliver solar electricity during daylight hours, backed up by battery storage overnight, at a fixed rate for the term”.

“The annual energy consumption of the campus is approximately 25,000kWh and the new solar and storage system will deliver up to 32,390kWh of sustainable energy at a substantially lower cost than what it would cost for Atlantis Beach Baptist College to procure a grid connection,” he said.

“The system will provide 100 per cent of the school’s energy requirements throughout the year.”

Mr Begley said the college would buy clean electricity from Upstream, much like a typical retailer and receive ownership of the asset at no cost when the power purchase agreement expired, while also having the right to exit the agreement at any time by buying the equipment.

“Upstream will continue to work as Atlantis Beach Baptist College’s sustainability partner, expanding the project in line with the growth of the campus,” he said.

Principal Gary Harris with student councillors Jacob Wood, Serina Isabel, Kai Anderson and Taj Batarseh.

At the official launch on October 12, Mr Begley showed students, teachers and visitors the real-time energy creation and consumption and said even though it was a cloudy morning, the solar system’s input was just over 50 per cent and the battery had a 42 per cent charge level.

“If a bit of cloud comes over, we don’t have to switch to the generators,” he said.

“This has been keeping the school running overnight – it keeps the servers running.

“It’s really exciting to get behind a project like this, particularly a landmark project.”

Year 10 student councillor Serina Isabel said it was great and more places should go off the grid.

“I feel like other schools will come on the same path as us,” she said.

Principal Gary Harris said the college, which has students from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 10, was delighted with the off-grid solar power system.

“We initially saved $250,000 by deciding to not use grid power when the college opened last year and our new solar power system will replace the electricity previously generated by onsite diesel generators,” he said.

“The new solar power system is environmentally friendly and will deliver major cost savings for our college which we can use to invest in additional educations facilities for our students over the coming years.

“Our solar/battery solution also allows for a number of educational opportunities for students in a growing area of technology that will lead to many different career pathways in the future.”

Atlantis Beach estate project director Jarrod Rendell said is was a historic achievement for the first school in Australia to become 100 per cent sustainable while being completely “off-grid”.

Mr Rendell said the school had proven popular with residents because of its educational standards and “innovative approach to learning”.

“Renewable energy will increasingly become a key part of powering our society over the coming years and in-turn will create exciting new employment opportunities for a new generation of young people,” he said.

Mr Harris said the school had also applied for a grant for wind power equipment and hoped to have a hybrid energy system.