Dr. Bill Holland, environmentalist, scientist
and social entrepreneur
ABC Stateline - transcript of report, reporter
- Sharon O'Neill) -
3rd August 2007
QUENTIN DEMPSTER: Still on energy sources, it
started as an idea by a teenage boy to solar power
his bedroom. It could well be the beginning of
schools across the state becoming solar power
HOLLAND: Can everyone come and get ready for lunch?
O'NEILL: Meet the Holland family. For years they
had a dream that they would one day live in a
house which was running completely on solar energy.
Two years ago, they moved to the Northern Beaches
of Sydney and into a house with a large north-facing
HOLLAND: I couldn't justify not doing anything
any longer so we just went straight in to do it,
it was so easy.
O'NEILL: The family's inspiration came from 16
year-old Armand who at 14 decide he wanted to
solar power his bedroom.
HOLLAND: This is the switchboard which controls
everything that is going on. This is the regulator
that controls the power coming down from the roof
into the batteries. It keeps the batteries charged.
The battery's capacity is about two kilowatt hours.
That means that I can run the computer for about
eight hours for example. I could leave the lights
on for two or three days if there was a blackout.
All the batteries are down here.
HOLLAND: He said, "Dad, when are you going
to do the whole house?" And I kept saying
"well I will do the whole house, it is just
a matter of getting the finance together".
But needless to say, the finance just didn't come,
so at the end of last year I just took the plunge,
borrowed the whole amount of money and did the
house in 3.46 kilowatt array of photo-volcaic
cells, 28 130 watt cells. So now the whole house
is running on solar. We feed back to the grid
anything we don't need.
O'NEILL: But the Hollands dream to become completely
carbon neutral didn't stop at home.
a simple household could run off solar, why not
a school? Why not a whole community?
HOLLAND: My wife had a real vision to see all
the schools in Australia running on solar and
I likewise soon came around to that thought too.
For years, that has been our desire to see all
the schools run on solar because schools have
a really good opportunity. For a start, you've
got 12 weeks a year when there is nobody there
where they can be producing electricity and channelling
back into the grid and earning money. Anyway,
we've always wanted to do that and so when it
came to Pittwater, when we moved to this area,
after we got our house done, we went straight
to the principal there. We told him what we wanted
to do and he was... he said I am right with you.
That's where we are at.
CUSWORTH, PRINCIPAL OF PITTWATER HIGH: I was really
excited. We've actually developed an environmental
statement and that is actually a medium to long-term
goal of the school that we have a zero ecological
O'NEILL: For Ross Cussworth, principal of Pittwater
High School, the Holland's idea couldn't have
come at a better time.
school has just recently set up an environmental
action group as part of the student council. Now
the principal is keen to combine the school's
solar project as part of the curriculum.
I think another thing we can do is after hours
at night time and stuff there are still lights
around the perimeter of the school. If we just
turn them off, that would save a heap.
O'NEILL: But turning Pittwater High School into
a solar power station is an ambitious and expensive
the first instance, Ross Cussworth says, the school
must reduce its energy use to make the project
CUSSWORTH: At the moment we are using something
like 1,800 KW hours of energy a day. On average
it is 1,000 KW hours a day when we spread across
the whole year. That compares to the average household
of about 15 to 20 of KW use a day. So we went
in to reduce that to reduce that down to zero
eventually just though improved energy practices,
wiser use of our energy, turning lights off, maybe
getting light sensitive lights, better standard,
higher technology levels of compact fluorescent
lights. We are having to reduce that by about
ten per cent.
O'NEILL: The school is aiming to reduce its energy
use to around 600 KW per day. But to provide enough
solar power for that energy usage would still
require the instillation of 1,000 solar panels.
The total cost, $1.5 million.
HOLLAND: We are not going to do ravel tickets
for the next 100 years because that's what it
would take to do it. We've planned to talk to
companies and we've had success with that. We
say to them, "look, you want to offset your
carbon emissions? The way you can go about it
is maybe not planting trees - believe me we're
all for planting trees, but if you plant a tree,
it could be years and years before you see a great
difference to the environment." Here, if
they come on board with a project like this, we
can immediately see something happening.
SUTTON, OWNER WOVEN IMAGE: I thought it was great.
It is a local project which is obviously something
always appealing. The thing that I thought was
the best part of it was that it's very bold to
try and convert a school into an energy neutral
environment that has the ability to possibility
put electricity back into the grid is a fantastic
O'NEILL: Tony Sutton is the owner of Woven Image,
a commercial textile wholesale business in Warriewood
just a few kilometres away from Pittwater High
company has been environmentally conscious for
many years and currently supports a large Landcare
program which will see a thousand trees planted
this year. He is now keen to put some financial
support into the Pittwater High solar project.
SUTTON: We will continue to plant trees because
I think you need to do both things, but putting
solar into a school is an immediate fix. It reduces
their electrical requirements straightaway, so
that's a great thing. And as I said, it's local
so we would be great in the environment in a local
sense by being here, so to be able to put something
back into the local environment is a positive
HOLLAND: In the coming months, that's what I intend
to do. Chrissie, my wife and Linda, we are hoping
to visit a lot of companies. We've got a lot of
O'NEILL: Regular meetings between the school,
the local community environment group, Climate
Action Pittwater and local business are now taking
place to push ahead with their plans.
SUTTON: The fact that it was a local community
action, it wasn't a government-sponsored thing
or wasn't being forced upon them was the bit that
was most attractive. It was a small group of people
who were trying to make a big difference and that's
the thing that is the most attractive, I think.
HOLLAND: In the next few months or years, companies
are still going to be using fossil fuel and they
will have to offset their carbon emissions. We
could, with the amount of finance available already
that has been channelled into other projects,
if that was channelled into schools, we could
potentially do every school in New South Wales
over a period of time by using up the company's
CUSSWORTH: We want to show all of the state that
schools and young people particularly who will
be the people who have to deal with the climate
change when it does occur, the two or three degrees
in the next 20 or 30 years, they will have to
be the ones that live and make... live with the
decisions that we make today. So it's really important
that our whole community, not just Pittwater High,
is able to be an example of what can be done.
High School Solar Power Station
and the environment
High School Solar Power Station