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Argument a cynical bid to slow solar uptake, says solarcity

The head of New Zealand’s largest solar company has slammed an argument that electric vehicles are better than solar panels for cutting CO2 levels, as a “cynical and diversionary tactic” by the electricity industry to slow the uptake of home solar systems.

“It’s not an ‘either, or’ situation. We need both electric vehicles and solar panels to help reduce CO2 levels. Let’s stop rearranging the deck chairs and get on with it,” says solarcity CEO Andrew Booth responding to a report released by the Smart Grid Forum today.

“Time is running out with carbon dioxide levels passing the 400ppm level for the first time since humans walked the earth. Globally the economics of energy are changing and, as NIWA pointed out in 2010 (2), the physical climate around renewables in New Zealand is also changing.

“Playing off the climate benefits of electric vehicles against solar PVs is a cynical and diversionary tactic by the electricity industry, initiated by the Concept Consulting report a couple of months ago, to protect its old fashioned business model in the face of smart technologies like solar PV and batteries.

“Solar PV and batteries are available now and are already making a difference. There are now more than 9000 homes generating solar power following growth of more than 65% in the past year. We’re also expecting to see massive growth in battery storage over the coming years now that it’s available for home solar in New Zealand.”

“We’re encouraging the switch to electric vehicles as the transport sector creates more than double the amount of CO2 emissions at 44% compared to the electricity sector at 17%. That switch has started but with only 1220 light electric vehicles so far it’s going to take a long time to transition the whole of the New Zealand fleet and we need to be reducing our CO2 emissions right now.

Solar power can also be used to charge electric vehicles.

“With no new renewable generation plants planned in the short term, charging EVs on solar ensures they are operating as close as possible to zero emissions which isn’t possible if they’re charged from the grid which relies on fossil fuel generation.”

Booth said a report released last week by Transpower outlining scenarios for the electricity sector, including the rise of technology such as solar and battery storage took a far more forward thinking approach.

“We welcome Transpower's positive approach to discussing how we are going to transition from the old to the new and protect consumers’ right to choose to be part of helping our nation’s transition to be 100% renewable electricity."