Both EVs and so­lar key to our fu­ture

The Dominion Post - - Opinion - AN­DREW BOOTH

Pattrick Smellie (See­ing red over green cars could be cyn­i­cal, June 16) wrote that elec­tric ve­hi­cles (EVs) out­per­form so­lar pho­to­voltaic (PV) pan­els when it comes to re­duc­ing CO2 emis­sions. The take-home mes­sage has been that the na­tion should be in­vest­ing in elec­tric ve­hi­cles and not so­lar power.

I be­lieve this ar­gu­ment is di­vi­sive and mis­lead­ing. In re­al­ity, both tech­nolo­gies are crit­i­cal to our chil­dren’s fu­ture.

Power gen­er­a­tion needs to grow quickly, as the de­car­bon­i­sa­tion of the heat­ing and trans­port sec­tors will only be possible if we use more elec­tric­ity. This elec­tric­ity needs to stem from ze­ro­car­bon re­new­able sources, par­tic­u­larly wind and so­lar PV, and we need to be mak­ing those in­vest­ment de­ci­sions now if we are to have any chance of hit­ting our car­bon re­duc­tion tar­gets.

It seems that some within the elec­tric­ity sec­tor are re­sis­tant to change and are fight­ing to keep the busi­ness-asusual model, de­spite the chal­lenges fac­ing our com­mu­ni­ties.

Rather than em­brac­ing new tech­nolo­gies that will help com­mu­ni­ties and our econ­omy, they are clutch­ing at rea­sons to slow their up­take.

The re­cent in­tro­duc­tion of a so­lar tax by Uni­son En­ergy in Hawke’s Bay, just like the EV vs PV de­bate, is a cyn­i­cal way to di­vert pub­lic at­ten­tion away from the very real eco­nomic, en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­ci­etal ben­e­fits of­fered by so­lar, bat­ter­ies and EVs. By in­vest­ing in clean, dis­trib­uted en­ergy re­sources, con­sumers can make the grid more ef­fi­cient and con­trib­ute to a cleaner en­vi­ron­ment, while gain­ing greater con­trol over their en­ergy bills.

Here’s how that could work: The aver­age mod­ern EV driver will start the day by driv­ing to work on elec­tric­ity be­tween 6am-9am. The ideal time to charge the car will be be­tween 10am-3pm so that so­lar power can off­set this ad­di­tional load on the grid.

The EV driver leaves work be­tween 3am-6pm. They plug in again at home but this time the EV can supply power to the house, in ad­di­tion to a home bat­tery, if re­quired. Then, typ­i­cally when power con­sump­tion drops around 10pm, both can be charged by the grid, adding more rev­enue to the util­ity in a time sec­tor that was pre­vi­ously low on con­sump­tion. The cy­cle then starts again the next day.

Smellie says that it costs about $10,000 to buy and in­stall a home so­lar sys­tem. That is not the case. Ki­wis can now make a sim­ple switch to so­lar with­out any costs for the pan­els or in­stal­la­tion and gen­er­ate power from their own roofs at a 20-year fixed price, cheaper than grid power. Where grid power is ex­pen­sive, like Otago, the so­lar en­ergy ser­vice price is up to 35 per cent cheaper.

Our vi­sion is to bring the na­tion to­gether, at this im­por­tant mo­ment in time, with a for­ward look­ing ap­proach to mod­ernising our en­ergy supply and our econ­omy. If the trans­for­ma­tion we need to make is to be­come a suc­cess story, not only in cli­mate terms, but also in eco­nomic terms, we will need a par­a­digm shift.

We be­lieve that shift will start by pro­vid­ing Ki­wis with cleaner and more af­ford­able en­ergy al­ter­na­tives com­pared to the tra­di­tional op­tions that have put the fu­ture of our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren at risk. An­drew Booth is chief ex­ec­u­tive of So­larcity.

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