Under the program, grants of up to AUD$50,000 (AUD$100,000 for multi-campus schools) are awarded to eligible primary and secondary schools to install solar and other renewable power systems, rainwater tanks and a range of energy efficiency measures. The Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water, Senator Penny Wong, announced that AUD$51 million in funding would be available in 2010-11.
More than 1,000 schools across the nation have already installed solar systems under this program, and another 1,500 have projects underway to become solar schools, Senator Wong said. Since the program began in 2008, about six megawatts (MW) of renewable solar power has been installed in schools the equivalent of meeting the electricity needs of 1,200 average households each day. This program has been highly successful as it gives school students first-hand experience in renewable energy, and helps students to become more energy and water wise.
The National Solar Schools Program was temporarily suspended in October 2009 when high demand for the program meant that annual funding targets were met earlier than anticipated. It is hoped the AUD$420 million program will help schools across Australia to become more energy efficient.