Upper Clutha Project Media Article - Wanaka Sun

Article originally published in the Wanaka Sun by Joanna Perry

Upper Clutha non-network solution the first in New Zealand

The Upper Clutha will be host to the first non-network solar power solution introduced in New Zealand. 

Eric Pyle, director, public affairs and policy for solarcity NZ told the Wānaka Sun that solarZero - a new utility business model which uses a combination of solar panels, battery storage and smart control to enable customers to switch to non-network alternatives when the load on the grid increases - had been selected for roll-out in Wānaka due to the rapid growth in development in the area.

SolarZero’s partnership with Aurora Energy was announced last month after Aurora went out to tender for new ways to provide cost effective electricity to the fastest growing regions across their energy network.  

The successful model was based on a wireless solution established in Brooklyn, USA ten years ago and was designed to defer the need for a transmission upgrade as the demand on Aurora’s network lines increased, whilst helping to provide a sense of how the system would work in a New Zealand context.

The solarZero system aims to provide non-network power using solar energy and battery power two thirds of the time, and fall back on the grid around one third of the time. A smart control monitors household energy usage to provide sufficient power at peak times without overloading the network.

Pyle said that there were 4,000 batteries now in the market, and solarcity hoped to install 150-200 solarZero systems a year for developers and existing home-owners. 

Neil Cowie, CEO solarcity, said: “Globally, solar, batteries and smart control - which are collectively known as flexibility services - are increasingly recognised as being key to an efficient power system that supports the electrification of the economy. This project is right up there nationally and internationally.”

Solar power solutions such as SolarZero’s ‘grid for good’ would be key to helping New Zealand reach its target of 100% renewable electricity generation by 2035 and carbon neutrality by 2050. 

Read more about solarZero and the Virtual Power Plant project in Upper Clutha: