Solar, batteries and electric vehicles support strong energy future

A new government report says the combination of solar, batteries and electric vehicles will support a stable grid as we increase our use of renewable electricity over the next 25 years.

The report, produced by MBIE, looks at five scenarios that have been developed “to explore a plausible range of uncertainty about the future electricity system”. It starts with the premise that there will be an increasing demand for electricity, whether or not the aluminium smelter at Tiwai Point continues operating. It also sees big scale coal-fired generation ending in the early to mid 2020s when the Huntly Power Station closes.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) generation features across all five scenarios with growth between 100,000 and 390,000 residential and commercial solar units installed by 2040.

Importantly, a key finding shows investment in residential solar panels with batteries can maximise household use of solar generation and shift household demand away from peak periods which would help reduce the need for gas-fired peaking generation.

This would be done, in part, by allowing the battery to be charged from the grid in off peak periods, when solar is not generating, and then supplying the household in peak periods. Under the ‘Disruptive’ scenario (which includes the highest uptake of residential solar PV) solar and battery systems reduce winter evening peaks by around 490 MW in 2040 and by 800 MW in 2050.

In another key finding the report says the additional demand for electricity to power electric vehicles can be met by solar and batteries along with wind and new geothermal generation.

Today’s announcement by NASA that the planet is warming at a pace not experienced within the past 1,000 years, makes it “very unlikely” that the world will stay within a crucial temperature limit agreed by nations just last year in Paris.

Solar is survival technology. It is critical that our government encourages the acceleration of its adoption across New Zealand if we are to be in with a chance of reducing the levels of carbon in the atmosphere and stopping climate change in its tracks.