Rangiora’s Catholic primary school has harnessed the power of the sun using a novel implementation of solar power technology.

On October 14, a new hybrid solar system was commissioned and blessed at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Rangiora. The blessing was carried out by Waimakariri parish priest Fr Denis Nolan.

The school is the first electricity consumer in the South Island to install and use a state-of-the-art 6.4kWh Tesla Powerwall Battery. Some other consumers have solar power systems, but not in conjunction with a Tesla Powerwall Battery, St Joseph’s principal Ben Gorman told NZ Catholic.

The school’s new system has been installed in partnership with MainPower, and it will not only introduce environmentally friendly power to the school, but it will also reduce energy costs and provide students with a powerful hands on learning tool.

“I’m really excited about this next step towards environmental sustainability for St Joseph’s” Mr Gorman said.

“North Canterbury has such wonderful weather, why not capitalise on this and use the technology available to harness the sun’s power. It’s good for the environment, frees up operational budget for teaching and learning and provides rich data to engage students in science, technology and mathematics.”

St Joseph’s is a bronze member of the Enviro Schools Programme, and so solar energy was seen as the next logical step for them.

It was also seen as a response to Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter Laudato Si, which emphasised the importance of investing in renewable energy, and challenged all Christians to be concerned with “ecological conversion” — noting that: “Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us.”

“The staff and the students are so grateful for the enthusiastic support from MainPower in helping us make this dream a reality. We hope that other schools will follow our lead in this new energy endeavour,” Mr Gorman said

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