Schoolgen is a programme developed by Genesis Energy (one of New Zealand's largest power companies) to bring solar energy and energy efficiency to
life for children across New Zealand. Why? Because young people are our future leaders and decision makers, and it's important that they understand
the role renewable energy will play in their future.
By talking and interacting with them we have a real chance to cultivate environmentally-aware thinking and behaviour; not just theirs, but that of the people around them - their teachers, parents, parent's colleagues, friends... the whole community! Since Schoolgen began in 2006 Genesis Energy has created a comprehensive programme that includes:
- Free, New Zealand curriculum-linked, teaching resources that any Primary, Intermediate or Secondary school in New Zealand can use to explore electricity generation, energy efficiency, renewable energy and climate change.
- A particular focus on solar energy and photovoltaic (PV) systems.
- Providing 92 schools (as of mid-2016) across New Zealand with their own free mini-power station. The PV system allows these schools to generate a portion of their electricity from the sun, and to teach their students about solar energy, climate change and electricity generation.
- A dedicated educational website on which the real-time generation data from the solar panels at these schools is displayed for anyone to see.
- Specialised Environmental Educators who work at the Primary, Intermediate and Secondary School level in the Schoolgen schools, helping schools to learn about renewable energy and energy efficiency
The Schoolgen Programme enables schools to generate a percentage of their own electricity from the sun. At the start of 2016 the electrical energy generated and measured with our additional free monitoring service has exceeded 1 GIGAWATT-HOUR of solar generated electricity! Solar data measurements started in 2007 and have been made available to NZ education since this time through our website.
Unsurprisingly schools use a lot of energy over the year. An average NZ classroom is estimated to use about 5000 kWh of electricity per year. 1 Gigawatt-hour (or 1 million kilowatt-hours!) is therefore equivalent to running about 200 classrooms for one whole year completely from the electricity generated by the Schoolgen Programme!Schools don't need the solar panels to be able to use the programme. Every school in New Zealand can join the Schoolgen community by visiting the Schoolgen website and using the free teaching resources.
Why has Genesis Energy created Schoolgen?
As a major supplier of electricity in New Zealand, Genesis Energy is conscious of the environmental effects of burning fossil fuels for electricity generation and the role we play in meeting the country's climate change objectives.
As the community's awareness of climate change increases and the reality of future energy supply issues for New Zealand approaches, Genesis Energy believes it is important for all New Zealanders to learn about renewable electricty generation.
Schoolgen is a key sustainability programme for Genesis Energy. More information about Genesis Energy's approach to sustainability can be found here.
- Raising the awareness and knowledge of students about renewable energy, in particular solar energy, electricity generation, energy efficiency and climate change;
- Raising community, parent and staff awareness of solar energy;
- Contributing to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions;
- Contributing to energy savings for the schools that have had solar panels installed;
- Students and parents will be able to enthusiastically promote alternative energy forms across their local communities because they've experienced how it works;
- The programme has been designed so that the teacher resources are easily accessible and free to use by any school in New Zealand - schools do not need solar panels to engage in the programme
- Why solar energy?
Genesis Energy believes that renewable energy sources have a key role to play in securing New Zealand's electricity supply well into the future and therefore it is important for students to understand what renewable energy is.
Photovoltaic technology was chosen for Schoolgen as solar energy is a very accessible form of renewable energy for all of New Zealand. As well as this, PV panels are ideally suited for a school environment as they are virtually maintenance free, fairly unobtrusive; they work silently and produce no pollution; and the fact that sunlight can be converted into electricity is intriguing!