Eric Pyle, Director of Public Affairs & Policy, solarcity, speaking at our recent Energy Future event in Wellington.

An aligned vision for New Zealand's electrified future

We asked solarcity’s Director of Public Affairs & Policy, Eric Pyle, to review Transpower’s recent report 'Whakamana i Te Mauri Hiko' - an 80-page refresh of their 2018 strategy/think piece, where they lay the foundation for getting NZ towards the 2035 100% renewables goal and 2050 100% carbon zero economy goal.

solarcity’s Eric Pyle reviews Transpower’s recent report Whakamana i Te Mauri Hiko

Whakamana i Te Mauri Hiko shows strong leadership from Transpower and we are encouraged that the direction of their thinking contained in this report closely aligns with our business strategy at solarcity.

The report makes three key points:

  • Electrifying the economy is bound to happen. As well as addressing climate change, with electric vehicles becoming cheaper it is inevitable that transport will be electrified.
  • Distributed energy resources and smart control systems are going to increase rapidly; solar, batteries, smart systems will all play a part in a connected and shared energy system.
  • We have a choice to make - new smart way or old not-so-smart way to electrify the economy and aggressively manage peak demand. We can either use new smart systems with coordinated distributed generation and smart charging of electric vehicles. OR we take the same approach we've done for the past century and continue to build more power infrastructure, using vast amounts of capital.

A big focus in the report is managing peak demand - how to get electricity demand flat 24/7. If we do flatten demand/reduce peaks we can run the power system much more efficiently and avoid billions of dollars of investment in poles, wires, transformers, generation stations. This view very much fits with solarcity's philosophy of using distribution solar and batteries to maximise the efficiency of the whole power system.

How would this look? As an example, we have calculated that on a cold winters day in Christchurch when the power system is operating at capacity for parts of the day, there is enough spare capacity to charge 300,000 electric vehicles, if these are charged at the right times. This ‘smart charging’ will eliminate the need for new electricity infrastructure as EV demand increases - a huge cost saving.

The report is a significant leadership piece for the industry. We look forward to the Commerce Commission, Electricity Authority and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority stepping up to the bar that Transpower has set in terms of thought leadership.

You can download the full report here.