Solar power in New Zealand

Summary

Solar potential of New Zealand
Solar panels on a home in Auckland

Solar power in New Zealand is on the rise, but operates in an entirely free market with no form of subsidies or intervention from the New Zealand Government. As at the end of November 2021, New Zealand has 182.1 MW of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) solar power installed, of which 67.7 MW (32.7%) was installed in the preceding 24 months.[1] In the year to December 2020, 159,000 megawatt-hours of electricity was generated by solar power, or 0.37% of all electricity generated in the country.[2]

Although there are no subsidies, the declining costs of photovoltaics has caused a large increase in demand over the last few years. In 2009, the average turnkey price for a standard PV system of three kilowatts (kW) was about NZ$40,000; by 2019 this had dropped to approx. NZ$8,500.[3]

Adoption

As of the end of March 2021, 31,589 solar power systems have been installed in New Zealand. For new installations, the average residential system size was 4.6 kW and the average commercial system was 17.8 kW.[1]

The largest solar power system on a school in New Zealand was officially opened in a ceremony in February 2019 at Kaitaia College. Kelvin Davis, unveiled a plaque to acknowledge the installation of the 368 solar panel project which is spread across the rooftop of multiple buildings on the school campus.[4]

By January 2014, solar photovoltaic systems had been installed in 50 schools through the Schoolgen program, a program developed by Genesis Energy to educate students about renewable energy, particularly solar energy. Each school has been given a 2 kW capacity PV system, with a total distributed installed capacity of 100 kilowatts-peak (kWp). Since February 2007, a total of 513 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electrical energy have been recorded.[5]

In July 2019 Refining NZ announced plans for a 26 MW solar farm at the Marsden Point Oil Refinery, but by May 2020 the project was on hold.[6][7] In January 2020 Foodstuffs announced it would be installing a 1.1 MW PV array on its new Auckland distribution centre.[8][9] In February 2020 Genesis Energy Limited announced plans for a 300 MW facility in the Waikato.[10] In September 2020 Hawke's Bay Airport announced plans for a 10 MW farm on unused airport land.[11] In October 2020 Watercare Services installed a 1 MW floating array on its Auckland wastewater treatment plant.[12]

In 2021, Kea Energy commissioned a solar power plant in the Wairau Valley in Marlborough with a potential capacity of 2.2 MW, with current plans to build capacity up to 1.85 MW as at March 2021.[13] In February 2021 Far North Solar Farm applied for resource consent for a 16 MW farm at Pukenui on the Aupouri Peninsula in Northland.[14] In May 2021 Lodestone Energy announced plans for five solar farms in the upper North Island, capable of generating 400 GWh annually.[15][16]

In June 2021, the Todd Corporation commissioned a 2.1 MW solar plant at Kapuni in south Taranaki. The facility includes 5800 solar panels and was claimed to be the largest grid-connected solar plant at the time.[17] In December 2021 Christchurch Airport announced it would be hosting a 150MW plant at Kōwhai Park, to be scaled up over 30 years.[18][19] On 30 December 2021 Island Green Power announced plans for a 200 MW solar farm in Waikato.[20]

Proposed and under construction

Only solar plants over 5 MW generating capacity are listed.

Name Location Operator Projected capacity (MW) Status Coordinates
Hawke's Bay Airport[11] Napier, Hawke's Bay Hawke's Bay Airport 10 Proposed
Kōwhai Park[19] Harewood, Canterbury Christchurch Airport 150 Proposed 43°29′45″S 172°30′38″E / 43.49583°S 172.51056°E / -43.49583; 172.51056
Lodestone One[21] Dargaville, Northland Lodestone Energy Proposed
Lodestone Two Kaitaia, Northland Lodestone Energy 39.4[22] Consented 35°4′54″S 173°13′10″E / 35.08167°S 173.21944°E / -35.08167; 173.21944
Lodestone Three Waiotahe, Bay of Plenty Lodestone Energy Proposed
Lodestone Four Edgecumbe, Bay of Plenty Lodestone Energy Proposed
Lodestone Five Whitianga, Waikato Lodestone Energy Proposed
Pukenui Pukenui, Northland Far North Solar Farm 16 Under construction[23] 34°49′06″S 173°6′38″E / 34.81833°S 173.11056°E / -34.81833; 173.11056 (Pukenui Solar Farm)
Ruakaka[24] Marsden Point, Northland Meridian Energy 75 Proposed
Smith Canal[25] near Ruawai, Northland Lightyears 11 Proposed
Waiterimu[20] near Ohinewai, Waikato Island Green Power 200 Proposed

Cost-effectiveness

Buy-back rates for solar power exported to the grid range from 7 to 12 cents, plus 15% GST if the system owner is GST-registered.[26] Cost-effectiveness of a residential solar power occurs when system owners aim to use more of their solar power than what they export, by means of timed appliances, turning on appliances when the sun is out, energy management systems and battery storage. Commercial buildings that use power during the day can get a high return on their investment.[27]

A 2015 study found that PV was more economical than grid supply if all the PV electricity was used on site and none was exported to the grid. For residential and commercial installations, improving energy efficiency is a lower cost option than PV.[28]

Statistics

Source: NREL[29]
Installed solar generation as of 30 November 2021[30]
Network reporting region Installations Uptake (%) Total apacity (kW)
Far North (Top Energy) 1,322 3.95 6,909
Whangarei and Kaipara (Northpower) 1,462 2.39 7,546
Waitemata (Vector) 3,621 1.47 16,121
Auckland (Vector) 3,315 0.92 20,276
Counties (Counties Power) 1,151 2.49 5,770
Thames Valley (Powerco) 1,234 1.67 5,683
Waikato (WEL Networks) 1,587 1.65 7,897
Waipa (Waipa Networks) 829 2.91 5,185
King Country (The Lines Company) 95 0.40 573
Tauranga (Powerco) 2,131 2.34 10,069
Rotorua (Unison Networks) 371 1.16 1,760
Eastern Bay of Plenty (Horizon Energy) 370 1.48 1,663
Taupo (Unison Networks) 185 1.05 754
Eastland (Eastland Network) 410 1.59 1,715
Hawke's Bay (Unison Networks) 1,428 2.19 7,193
Central Hawke's Bay (Centralines) 195 2.24 1,168
Southern Hawke's Bay (Scanpower) 53 0.79 239
Wairarapa (Powerco) 761 2.90 3,371
Taranaki (Powerco) 836 1.39 6,145
Whanganui (Powerco) 491 1.43 2,094
Manawatu (Powerco) 821 1.44 3,842
Kapiti and Horowhenua (Electra) 940 2.04 4,001
Wellington (Wellington Electricity) 1,695 0.96 6,518
North Island 25,303 1.54 126,492
Nelson (Nelson Electricity) 214 2.33 864
Tasman (Network Tasman) 1,417 3.39 7,103
Marlborough (Marlborough Lines) 777 2.96 5,909
Buller (Buller Electricity) 27 0.57 132
West Coast (Westpower) 57 0.51 302
North Canterbury (MainPower) 1,185 2.80 5,514
Central Canterbury (Orion) 3,488 1.64 17,462
Ashburton (EA Networks) 311 1.53 1,745
South Canterbury (Alpine Energy) 516 1.53 2,425
Waitaki (Network Waitaki) 138 1.04 1,076
Queenstown (Aurora Energy) 376 2.15 2,162
Central Otago (Aurora Energy) 955 4.13 4,624
East Otago (OtagoNet) 237 1.54 1,261
Dunedin (Aurora Energy) 433 0.77 1,780
Southland (The Power Company) 446 1.20 2,649
Invercargill (Electricity Invercargill) 121 0.69 607
South Island 10,698 1.83 55,615
Total 36,001 1.62 182,107


Solar power installations rose steadily from 2013 to 2019 (see table to the left for detail)
Solar installations - numbers, sizes and proportion of total installed capacity from 2013[31]
As at ICP count ICP uptake rate (%) Total capacity installed (MW) Avg. capacity installed (kW)
31 December 2013 2,236 0.11092 8.326 3.724
31 December 2014 5,423 0.26616 21.634 3.989
31 December 2015 9,377 0.45512 37.126 3.959
31 December 2016 13,654 0.65528 52.972 3.880
31 December 2017 18,049 0.85537 70.185 3.889
31 December 2018 22,355 1.04626 90.160 4.033
31 December 2019 26,476 1.22233 116.584 4.403
31 December 2020 30,639 1.39407 143.510 4.684

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Installed distributed generation trends". Electricity Authority.
  2. ^ "Energy in New Zealand | Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment". www.mbie.govt.nz. Retrieved 2021-12-30.
  3. ^ "The Big Reveal: The Growth Of Solar Power In New Zealand - From 2013 To 2019". My Solar Quotes.
  4. ^ "New Zealand's largest solar energy system on a school opens at Kaitaia College". SEANZ. 27 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Schoolgen". Genesis Energy.
  6. ^ "Refining NZ plans country's biggest solar farm". New Zealand Herald. 7 July 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  7. ^ Mandow, Nikki (15 May 2020). "Can our oil refinery survive?". Newsroom. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  8. ^ "New Zealand's first megawatt roof top array". Revolve Energy. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  9. ^ "Foodstuffs building country's largest solar panel roof". Stuff. 27 January 2020. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  10. ^ Jamie Gray (21 February 2020). "Genesis Energy sets sights on north Waikato solar power". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  11. ^ a b Georgia-May Gilbertson (11 September 2020). "Unused airport land will be used for country's biggest solar farm". Stuff. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  12. ^ "Biggest solar farm in country installed on Auckland wastewater lake". Stuff. 2 October 2020. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  13. ^ Solignac, Morgane (21 March 2021). "New Zealand's 'most beautiful' solar panel farm makes itself home in Marlborough". Stuff. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  14. ^ Denise Piper (14 February 2021). "New Zealand's largest solar farm proposed for top of country". Stuff. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  15. ^ Tom Pullar-Strecker (12 May 2021). "$300m plan for five solar energy farms, providing 1pc of country's supply". Stuff. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  16. ^ "Solar power: Planned network will increase generation eight-fold - company". RNZ. 12 May 2021. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  17. ^ "New Zealand's largest grid-connected solar power plant up and running". RNZ. 27 June 2021.
  18. ^ Liz McDonald (1 December 2021). "Solar plant powering 30,000 homes to be built at Christchurch Airport". Stuff. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  19. ^ a b "New Kōwhai Park at Christchurch Airport to generate renewable energy". RNZ. 1 December 2021. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  20. ^ a b Sharnae Hope (30 December 2021). "$100m solar farm pitch for north Waikato". Stuff. Retrieved 30 December 2021.
  21. ^ "The Solar Farms". Lodestone Energy. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  22. ^ "Huge solar farm leaves room for livestock". FedsNews. 20 April 2021. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  23. ^ Denise Piper (1 July 2021). "Sun shines on PM at Northland solar farm opening, but clouds remain over coal use". Stuff. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  24. ^ "Meridian Energy to build solar farm next to Marsden Point refinery". RNZ. 15 December 2021. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  25. ^ "SMITH CANAL SOLAR 11 MW". Lightyears Solar. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  26. ^ "Solar Power Buy-Back Rates NZ". My Solar Quotes.
  27. ^ "Solar Power Self-Consumption". My Solar Quotes.
  28. ^ Miller, Allan; Hwang, Michael; Lemon, Scott; Read, E.Grant; Wood, Alan (24–26 June 2015). Economics of Photovoltaic Solar Power and Uptake in New Zealand (PDF). EEA Conference & Exhibition. Wellington. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  29. ^ "PV Watts". NREL. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  30. ^ "Installed distributed generation trends". Electricity Authority. Retrieved 27 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. ^ "Electricity Authority - EMI (market statistics and tools)". www.emi.ea.govt.nz. Retrieved 2019-12-21.

External links

  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority - Solar Energy
  • Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand
  • The price of a solar power system