Saturday, 26 March 2011

Auckland to trial solar power
16 March 2011

Auckland is looking to put in place the country's largest solar power incentive scheme to move the city away from dependence on the Huntly thermal power station. The Auckland Council's Environment and Sustainability Forum looks set, this week, to approve a pilot scheme which will see the installation of 250 solar hot water heating systems in homes across the city, fitted with systems which will monitor usage.

As part of the pilot, there would be review of compliance, financing and best practice of installation of solar power in the city. Any incentive scheme would be dependant on the outcome of the pilot. Mayor Len Brown requested the investigation of opportunities for solar power provision as part of his 100 projects in his first 100 days in office. The project fits in with the Economic Development Ministry's updated 2010 Energy Outlook which projects that 83% of New Zealand's electricity generation will be from renewable sources by 2030.

According to an agenda for the forum, in the past decade there have only been 275 solar hot water systems installed on average per year in Auckland less than 10% of the number of systems installed annually in New Zealand. The pilot scheme follows the success of a similar project in Nelson which saw an increased investment in solar power businesses. The Nelson scheme saw the households involved make an average saving of 75% saving on hot water bills and an average of $500 of annual electricity savings.