Nz’s so­lar ad­van­tage

Element - - Planet -

The to­tal amount of so­lar en­ergy fall­ing on the roof of the aver­age Auck­land home in one year is 242,372 kWh, yet the aver­age home con­sumes just 8000 in kWh – just one thir­ti­eth that amount. New Zealand is blessed with abun­dant sun­shine hours – more than Ger­many and other Euro­pean coun­tries. The cost of so­lar tech­nol­ogy and sys­tems has re­duced well over 50% in the last three years to the point where it is not only a fea­si­ble and prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion but a sure-fire in­vest­ment for con­sumers and com­mer­cial busi­ness. In Auck­land there are many ex­am­ples of so­lar PV houses and build­ings; the newly built ‘Zero En­ergy’ house in Point Chevalier (pic­tured, be­low left) which is pow­ered en­tirely by so­lar tiles; a retrofit prop­erty in Devon­port with a 4 kW so­lar sys­tem; an­other ‘Zero En­ergy’ house north of Auck­land which uses build­ing-in­te­grated so­lar lam­i­nates and the Air­port ter­mi­nal, par­tially pow­ered by a 40 kW so­lar sys­tem. When your PV sys­tem gen­er­ates more elec­tric­ity than you con­sume, the ex­cess elec­tric­ity can flow into the dis­trib­u­tor’s net­work, and you sell your ex­cess power to your re­tailer. Al­though elec­tric­ity from a PV sys­tem works out at less than 11 cents per unit (de­pen­dent on tech­nol­ogy, lo­ca­tion, size) over the sys­tem life, this is cur­rently a third of the cur­rent re­tail price for elec­tric­ity, if you buy it off the grid as most do. An in­ter­est­ing ef­fect and huge ben­e­fit of gen­er­at­ing your own power is the aware­ness of elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion that it brings. This is ex­actly what Auck­land busi­ness Al­pha­tron Pa­cific ex­pe­ri­enced when it in­stalled a so­lar sys­tem on its of­fices in Al­bany. “Em­ploy­ees will switch off equip­ment when not in use and switch lap­top, mon­i­tors and phone charg­ers off at the wall at the end of the day, all be­cause it has be­come a goal that our so­lar sys­tem pro­vides suf­fi­cient en­ergy to cover our con­sump­tion” ac­cord­ing to man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Jeroen Brand. “This kind of be­havioural change is hard to achieve by just telling peo­ple what they must do or run­ning a bunch of me­dia ad­verts. Sav­ing en­ergy is just not that ex­cit­ing. It is the thrill of gen­er­at­ing your own power and man­ag­ing it, that makes it hap­pen,” he says. Sim­i­larly New Zealand so­lar elec­tric­ity com­pany Pow­ers­mart has re­ceived ex­tremely pos­i­tive feed­back from clients. Says man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Mike Bas­sett-Smith: “New Zealand doesn’t needs sub­si­dies to make so­lar power sys­tems vi­able in­vest­ments. Un­der Merid­ian’s new and com­mit­ted agree­ment our res­i­den­tial cus­tomers are gen­er­at­ing sim­ple ROI’s of 10% per an­num. Fac­tor in an in­crease in prop­erty value and th­ese re­turns are more than worth­while now. Com­mer­cial in­vestors can ben­e­fit from scale pric­ing on larger sys­tems and tax ad­van­tages that come with de­pre­ci­a­tion. So­lar is here to stay in NZ and is fun­da­men­tally sound.”

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