We are currently building New Zealand's largest solar subdivision in Christchurch, putting solar panels on 2,200 homes and recently installed solar on the Queenstown Aro Ha Wellness Centre and the Glen Innes Music and Arts Centre. Across the Pacific we are under contract to Hitachi to install a series of large PV systems across multiple island sites and are retained by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to advise on regional energy strategy and the economics of solar. We have just completed building a 1MW solar power station in the Cook Islands for the New Zealand Government.
As an immigrant to New Zealand from Zimbabwe, Fay had always dreamt of living in a sustainable home. Living in New Zealand, Fay felt increasingly beholden to power companies. This, coupled with a move to Nelson, one of New Zealand’s sunniest cities, was her motivation for going solar. Fay worked with five of her neighbours and they selected us as our quote was not only the best but they also liked that solarcity was a local company.
Each of the five families had a custom solution designed for their homes. Fay recalls the installation of 14 solar panels on her roof as quick and easy. Since the solar panels were installed, Fay has not received a single power bill, in fact she has received payments of up to $500 back from her energy provider.
The journey for Fay was nothing but positive "...a great sense of achievement completing what I set out to do all those years ago. The benefits are real and I am doing something good for the environment. It feels so good that the dream and the intentions I laid down all those years ago are coming to fruition.”
Zero energy house
Engineering couple Jo Woods and Shay Brazier are an Auckland couple interested in the renewable and green building space in New Zealand. When they decided to build and design their own home, they wanted it to be independent from energy generated by external sources. It needed to be a healthy, comfortable and pleasant home to live in. It also needed to be constructed, and to operate once complete, with minimal impact on the environment.
The Zero Energy House is designed to produce as much energy as the people living in it consume. The house generates energy via roof integrated solar photovoltaic panels and roof mounted solar hot water panels. No energy for the home is stored on-site and it is able to push energy back to the grid resulting in a zero energy balance.
“Most of the country’s electricity supply comes from hydro-electric power, with a portion coming from coal-powered plants. Coal pollutes the atmosphere and hydro-electric power requires infrastructure that infringes on the natural environment. And regardless of the source, electricity gets shifted all around the country on a massive transmission grid that costs money to maintain and results in energy loss. Generating electricity via solar on-site is clean, efficient and, we believe, elegant.”
Solar hot water
Val and Geoff Trow
Val and Geoff Trow, from Richmond, installed a solar hot water system on their roof in 1990. As avid trampers, they have always had a keen interest in the environment, playing their part to protect it, and were keen to be involved in the pioneering movement towards greener technologies.
“We love our solar hot water panels. We’re proud that they are made here in New Zealand and we love the sun providing our hot showers when we get back from a day walking in the mountains. In our retirement years, it’s nice to think that we have most of our hot water costs covered.”
After installing their solar hot water system, the Trow’s enjoy up to a week’s free power every month.
Havelock dairy farm
The owners of a Havelock Dairy farm came to us with the need to produce 1,200 litres of hot water a day. Historically this was supplied by electric cylinders, generating hot water bills of around $7,000 per year. As part of the farm's solution, we installed replacement cylinders connected to a solar array on the roof. The solution: the installation of an extra storage tank, as well as adding more controls to the filling process of the cylinder. The result - the farm achieved energy savings of up to 85%.
Our commercial and government clients range from the Ministry of Economic Development, the Department of Conservation and EECA to The Warehouse and Europe’s largest solar company, SolarCentury.
Aro Ha Health Retreat energy project PV and solar hot water installation
Aro Ha Health Retreat approached us with the need to design both an on-grid and off-grid system. Based in Glenorchy, an area that experiences relatively regular power cuts, Aro Ha required a system that would not adversely affect the running of the retreat when it was in off-grid mode. We met the design brief with what is now the largest privately owned PV array in New Zealand, producing 84% of its own energy from renewable systems on site. When off-grid the retreat is able to produce 100% of its own energy.
The system installed at Aro Ha features the largest backup installation in New Zealand. This means that at all times the retreat has 756kWh of battery storage, with 60kW of continuous backup capacity and 132kW of peak output. The inverters integrate with the building management system to provide up to date information on system operation and performance at all times.
Nauru is the smallest island country in the South Pacific, with a population of around 9,000 residents within a 21 square kilometre area. During the 1960s and 70s it became a sovereign state with strip mining operations that seriously harmed the surrounding environment.
In 2012, Nauru was given access to the Pacific Environment Community Fund to install a 131-kilowatt peak solar generation system and seawater desalination plant. It’s estimated these projects will save the island from using up to 60 tonnes of diesel per year. The main goal of the Pacific Environment Community Fund in financing the solar generation project was to eliminate the heavy dependence on fossil fuels and help Nauru achieve 50% sustainable power generation by 2015.
Russ Kun, Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Environment for Nauru described the install of solar on the Island as “good news for the people of Peleiu who have suffered for years from brackish and inadequate supply of healthy potable water”.
Working in conjunction with Hitachi, we were able to deliver a 50kWp solar power system. Once installed, the system was able to help the seawater desalination plants produce approximately 4,000 litres of fresh water per hour.
“Reliable access to energy lies at the heart of economic development and is crucial to human well-being,” says our CEO Andrew Booth.
Rarotonga Airport solar power project
The Cook Islands have long depended on imported fossil fuels to meet their energy needs, meaning they are economically vulnerable to fluctuating fuel costs. With a goal to give the Cook Islands energy independence, we created a partnership with the Cook Islands’ Government appropriately named “Uira Natura ki te Tokerau” which translates to “Natural Light of the North.”
With assistance from the New Zealand Government, a solar farm, located beside the Rarotonga Airport, was completed. The design brief was to meet 5% of the electricity demand across the Cook Islands. This will reduce diesel use by over 400,000 litres per year. The goal for the Cook Islands is to be 100% sustainable by 2020.
In order to meet the needs of the Cook Islands, 3,051 solar panels, capable of producing 960 kilowatts, have been installed. The solar farm will not only save on the importation of diesel fuels, but will also deliver savings on electricity costs of approximately $529,000 annually.
The solar farm will be owned and operated by the Cook Islands electricity company Te Aponga Uira. It will deliver energy sustainability and jobs to the nation. New Zealand High Commissioner Joanna Kempers describes the solar farm as “a major step in the Cook Islands journey to reducing the dependence on fossil fuel generated electricity.”