Energy Matters Calls For National Solar Schools Program Extension

Australia’s National Solar Schools program has been relaunched – but only for a short time.
   
The new round of NSSP funding was announced yesterday by Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water, Senator Penny Wong. In the latest round, schools only have until August 20, 2010 to submit their applications.
    
The re-launch drew sharp criticism from Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage, Greg Hunt who referred to it as "trickery" and "a reminder of the solar chaos under this government". 
  
National solar solutions provider Energy Matters expressed concern about the short time-frame in which schools have to submit applications.
   
According to the company’s co-founder, Max Sylvester, "While Energy Matters certainly welcomes the re-opening of the National Solar Schools Program; the timing isn’t ideal given many schools are in the midst of a break and some school administrators are on well-deserved leave."
   
By the time school resumes next Monday, Mr. Sylvester says it will only give a month for administrators to familiarise themselves with all the guidelines, gain quotes and submit applications. Mr. Sylvester believes that given schools will also be busy with ramping up for the new term, even more valuable time will be lost – particularly where schools are under-resourced as so many are. 
   
"We fear the narrow time-frame will see many deserving schools miss out on playing a larger, crucial role in addressing greenhouse gas emissions and slashing their coal-fired related electricity consumption. Additionally – and a very important point – many students will also miss out on a fantastic opportunity to learn more about renewable-energy in a hands-on fashion through the installation of a solar power system at their school," said Mr. Sylvester.
   
"Today’s students are the green-collar workers of the future; those who can turn Australia into a global leader in clean, renewable energy. We believe the Government needs to provide every opportunity to ensure these young people have the tools to participate – and the NSSP is an excellent vehicle for doing so. As such, the application period really needs to be extended, as does the funding."
    
Over the last few years many programs supporting solar power in Australia have been axed or changed substantially with little or no notice. Mr. Sylvester says it has been very difficult for those in the sector to keep up with all the changes, for consumers to understand the programs and for investors to gain confidence in Australia’s solar industry.
 
Further information: National Solar Schools Program