Solar for Schools &

ZEN Energy is proud to help support the next generation of New Zealand students with tailored solar energy systems to fuel their schooling.

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Why get solar for schools or universities?

New Zealand schools and universities are in a prime position to take advantage of the full range of benefits from solar energy. Because they consume nearly all of their energy during the day when lessons are in session, solar offers financial benefits beyond those of even other commercial systems.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Bren Winitana, Chairman of the Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand, explained in a New Zealand Herald article that the country’s approximately 2,500 schools could cut their power bills by $20 million a year if they all installed solar energy.

The cost of installation would be paid back in seven years, providing completely free electricity thereafter, and allowing for the savings to be diverted into better learning opportunities for students.

The financial benefits are considerable, but so are the educational opportunities. The visibility of a solar energy system and its performance will help to educate the students and allow them to grow throughout their education with a better understanding of the real, practical benefits of solar energy. This will help to form a generation of New Zealanders where solar energy and renewables become second-nature; just a standard part of everyday life, where commercial solar energy systems will be seen on the majority of available rooftops, delivering local and abundant energy to all types of enterprise.

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solar for schools case study

Whangaparaoa College in Auckland wanted to better live their values of energy efficiency and sustainability.


150 Panels

Settled on a 150-panel, 42kW commercial solar system for school of 1,500 students



System generates 59,000kWh per year which covers 12% of the school’s total demand

ZEN Energy Systems is very proud to have completed the installation of a 42 kW commercial solar energy system for Whangaparaoa College in Auckland, adding to ZEN's growing list of commercial solar installations.

Whangaparaoa College is a state secondary school located on the North Shore of Auckland, delivering positive learning outcomes to approximately 1,500 students. With the school being committed to energy efficiency and sustainability, it was driven to demonstrate this to staff, students and the general public. Through third party consultancy, Torque IP, the school issued a Request for Proposal to identify a specialist solar energy partner with the necessary experience in the design, planning, scheduling, permitting, installation, testing and commissioning of commercial solar energy systems, to ensure a fully managed and well-executed commercial solar energy project.

With a large baseload energy demand and heavy daytime use, Whangaparaoa College was looking for a commercial solar energy system that would:


Help to offset their standard electrical demand when the school is in operation


Have the potential to considerably offset their baseload electrical demand during weekends and terms breaks


Educate students and staff in sustainability and renewable energy sources


Meet the school's sustainability goals and reduce their impact on the environment


Provide a meaningful reduction in electricity purchased from the grid, while allowing easy future system expansion

Upon being awarded the contract to complete the project, ZEN set about delivering a commercial solar energy system that the school would be proud of, both in the short term and well beyond the expiration of the 25 year dual warranty period.


Making full use of the school's 'J Block' roof and enabling visibility to students and visitors, ZEN designed the commercial solar energy system to consist of 150 x 280 watt LONGi Solar panels on tilt frames to maximise year-round generation. Each panel has been paired up with an AP Systems micro-inverter, delivering on the school's desire for long-life warranties of 25 years (matching panel performance warranties) and individual panel monitoring.


In the same manner as a commercial business, the school's operations are ideally matched to benefit from solar energy. The extensive consumption analysis completed by ZEN showed that the school base load demand will be significant enough to see close to 100% of the solar generation used internally. Continued monitoring of system generation vs. consumption will further help understand the needs of any future system expansion.With an expected output of approximately 59,000 kWh per year, the system will provide approximately 12% of the school's current electrical demand. To put this into perspective, this is enough energy to run seven standard New Zealand houses, 24 hours per day, 365 days of the year. Not bad for a single commercial roof!

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Solar energy can benefit schools in several ways beyond just saving money on energy bills. By adopting solar energy, schools can reduce their carbon footprint, provide an opportunity for students to learn about clean energy, and serve as a role model for the community. Additionally, solar energy can provide a reliable source of power during blackouts or other emergencies, ensuring that essential operations, such as security systems and emergency lighting, continue to function.

Yes, solar energy systems can be installed on older or historic school buildings. In fact, many historic buildings have already undergone successful solar panel installations. However, the installation process may require additional planning and consideration to maintain the building's historical integrity while optimising the solar panel placement for maximum energy production. Working with experienced and professional solar energy company like ZEN Energy can help ensure a successful installation.

Solar energy can help schools reduce their carbon footprint by providing a clean, renewable source of energy. By generating electricity through solar panels, schools can significantly reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, which are responsible for a large portion of carbon emissions. This can help schools meet their sustainability goals and reduce their impact on the environment.

Solar energy can be used in various ways to meet the energy needs of schools. Some of the best ways for schools to use solar energy include powering classrooms, hallways, and administrative buildings, as well as providing hot water for bathrooms and kitchens. Solar energy can also be used to power outdoor lighting and security systems, and it can even be used to charge electric vehicles. With proper planning and installation, a solar energy system can help a school become more energy independent and sustainable.

Solar energy systems can be integrated into existing school infrastructure in several ways. The most common method is to install solar panels on the roof of a school building, but ground-mounted solar panels or solar carports can also be used. Additionally, solar energy systems can be integrated with existing electrical systems, including lighting, heating, and cooling systems, to help improve energy efficiency and reduce overall energy usage. An experienced solar energy installer can assess a school's infrastructure and make recommendations for the best integration options

During a power outage, a solar energy system will typically shut down to prevent backfeeding into the grid and to protect workers repairing the power lines. However, some solar energy systems can be equipped with a backup battery storage system that can provide power during an outage. It's important to discuss options for backup power with a experienced and professional solar energy company like ZEN Energy to determine the best solution for your school.

Yes, a school can sell excess energy back to the grid from its solar energy system through a process called net metering. Net metering allows the excess energy generated by the solar panels to be fed back into the grid, and the school is credited for the excess energy it produces. This credit can then be used to offset the school's energy bills when it needs to draw power from the grid, resulting in even more savings on energy costs. However, the rules and regulations for net metering vary by location, so it's important for schools to check with their local utility company to see what options are available to them.

To ensure the longevity and optimal performance of a school's solar energy system, regular maintenance is required. This includes routine checks of the panels and other components to ensure they are functioning properly, cleaning of the panels to remove debris or dirt buildup that can hinder performance, and inspection of the system's wiring and electrical components. It is recommended that a professional solar contractor be consulted for maintenance and repairs.