Concept report on solar “out of step” with growing international consensus

Auckland, 27 March 2017 - A third New Zealand energy report critical of solar is yet again out of step with international consensus and analysis, says the CEO of the country’s leading solar energy services company.

The largely industry funded report, released today by Concept Consulting as the third in a series, looks into the social issues around the introduction of new technologies that include solar, batteries and electric vehicles. (1) It claims that technology uptake is likely to increase power bills for many of New Zealand’s poorest consumers.

“That’s a desperate and, once again cynical, attempt to cast solar in a negative light when you consider the electricity industry has already put an estimated 25% of Kiwi households into fuel poverty,” says Andrew Booth, CEO of solarcity. (2)

“One in three Kiwis who go solar are installing it as a service with no capital costs. This delivers an affordable alternative to beat power prices which have gone up more than 130% in the past 20 years.

"There is nothing fair about the current pricing system used by the electricity industry which has led to Balclutha homeowners paying up to 60% more for power than homeowners in Dunedin just 80 kilometres down the road. (3)

“This report, just like the previous two, is at out of step with international findings that show renewable energies such as solar and wind energy will create huge savings for producers and consumers.”

Last month the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that three technology trends could unlock savings of up to $1.6 trillion for the global economy with much of the value gain sitting with consumers. (4)

In California it has been estimated that, by 2020, rooftop solar will deliver net societal benefits of more than US$1.4bn annually – for solar and non-solar customers alike. Benefits include improved flexibility in grid planning and reliability. (5)

The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell said he had “no hesitation to predict that in years to come solar will be the dominant backbone of our energy system, certainly of the electricity system”. (6)

“We agree with the Concept report that pricing structures need to change. If New Zealand could capture just a fraction of the benefits of this solar and cleantech revolution by embracing technological change and allowing our nation’s energy mix to shift freely, we would secure significant economic and social advantages across rich and poor communities alike,” says Booth.

“Based on evidence from our own customer base that is buying solar as a service, there’s no disparity in uptake rates between low and high income brackets. Lower income households are installing solar generation in numbers that are similar to higher income households. That’s also the pattern of solar uptake in Australia where high prices by lines companies are driving people to solar energy.”