WA businesses to help build schools’ renewable energy future

Image credit: Synergy

Synergy has inked contracts with two Western Australian (WA) companies to deliver rooftop solar panels and battery storage as part of the regional extension of the Schools Virtual Power Plant (VPP) Pilot Project.

The $8.8 million Schools VPP Pilot Project is being implemented in two stages at 17 schools in collaboration with the Department of Education and Synergy.

Energy Minister Bill Johnston said the Schools Virtual Power Plant Pilot Project has the potential to play a significant part in the energy transformation of WA.

“As the first VPP in WA, it will support a blueprint for this kind of capability and technology into future,” Minister Johnston stated.


The Minister added that by storing and sharing renewable energy on a communal level, the batteries and solar panels could help make the local electrical system more secure and reliable.

For three schools in Kalgoorlie, Balance Services Group will design, supply, instal, and commission solar and battery systems; for three schools in Geraldton and one in Kalbarri, Hybrid Systems Australia will do the same.

The WA-first VPPs will enhance system security and better manage each school’s electricity use.

According to the WA Government, a VPP is a network of energy sources, such as residential solar panels and batteries, pooled and shared with Synergy to flow into the network, similar to a conventional power plant.

The first stage saw the completion of the first ten urban and regional schools that were transformed into smart and flexible VPPs.

Education Minister Tony Buti said the Schools VPP Pilot Project inspires the next generation to imagine new possibilities for WA’s energy future while saving money for schools across the State.

“By supporting schools to become more energy efficient during the day we are also helping to keep electricity supply and demand in balance for everyone’s benefit,” Minister Buti stated.

The Minister added that expanding the pilot to seven more remote schools would ensure that WA’s renewable energy future belongs to the entire community.

Stage two of the Schools VPP Pilot Project will begin in early 2023 at the following schools:

  • Champion Bay Senior High School, City of Geraldton;
  • Geraldton Senior High School, City of Geraldton;
  • Hannans Primary School, City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder;
  • Kalbarri District High School, Shire of Northampton;
  • Kalgoorlie Primary School, City Kalgoorlie-Boulder;
  • O’Connor Primary School, City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder; and
  • Waggrakine Primary School, City of Geraldton. 

“ I am thrilled that three schools in the electorate of Geraldton have been included in the State Government’s Schools Virtual Power Plant Project,” Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton said.

Dalton stated that The new solar and battery modules would improve energy reliability for pupils at two Geraldton high schools and one primary school.

According to KAlgoorie MLA Ali Kent, this creative energy infrastructure project will help three primary schools in the Kalgoorlie electorate.

“Besides boosting energy security and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, the State Government’s Schools Virtual Power Plant Project will also help the schools better manage electricity consumption,” Kent said.

The Schools Clean Energy Technology Fund provides funding for the regional extension of the Schools VPP Pilot Project, with the State Government spending $8.8 million on the program.