An inverter converts energy captured or generated by a renewable energy system into electricity which can be used by the school. The energy output from photovoltaic cells is direct current (DC), like that of a battery, and needs to be converted into alternating current (AC), like the electricity that comes out of a wall outlet. This is then useable for lighting, computers, refrigerators, or heating and cooling systems.

Renewable energy
Renewable energy comes from resources that are continually replenished including sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat. Developments in renewable energy technology have led to increased usage in households, businesses and public sector organisations, including schools.

Energy from the solar power system is produced without emission of greenhouse gases, reducing the school’s environmental footprint. The system also enables a school to purchase less power from the grid, resulting in a saving on utilities costs. At times when a school is using less energy than is being generated, the excess energy is fed back into the grid, and the school receives credit from their energy provider for this contribution.

Solar energy systems
Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. An increasing number of Australian homes, businesses and schools are installing solar photovoltaic (solar PV) systems, referred to as solar panels.

Solar PV systems are popular for a number of reasons, including:

  • positive return on investment
  • low visual impact on buildings
  • electricity generation
  • they are silent, with no moving parts
  • low maintenance.

Wind energy systems
Wind energy systems are designed to capture the wind throughout the day and night to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind energy systems produce the same general benefits as solar energy systems, but can only be installed on school sites with sufficient exposure to wind.

Guidance chapter listing definitions for terms related to sustainability

Reviewed 28 June 2021

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