Cheap solar option studied in New Zealand

Installing solar hot water systems in New Plymouth homes could soon get a whole lot easier and cheaper if a council recommendation is approved.

To increase the uptake of solar heating the New Plymouth District Council is looking at making it a more attractive option for home owners.

In last week’s Policy Committee meeting a recommendation was considered to introduce cheaper funding options for installation of solar hot water heating.

This would reduce barriers for people considering shifting their hot water supply from the grid to the sun.

As in Nelson the council would look at introducing a Voluntary Targeted Rate scheme whereby the council pays for solar heating installation.

The homeowner then pays off the installation cost, plus interest and administration fees through their rates over 10 years.

The rates increase stays with the property for 10 years even if it is sold.

But two Taranaki companies are asking the council to go one better.

Following the Policy Committee meeting Taranaki home insulation company Wise Better Homes and solar energy company Tarasol presented reasons why the VTR should not be limited to solar hot water heating.

Tarasol is a new company which installs solar photovoltaic systems in Taranaki homes and businesses.

Photovoltaics (PV) is a method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into electricity using solar panels and semiconductors.

Any excess electricity is pumped back into the grid in exchange for credits.

Tarasol owner Iain Malloy said Taranaki should be a regional leader in solar energy.

“Why follow when you can be one of the first councils in New Zealand to include solar PV.”

Saving energy using solar power fit Taranaki’s energy province title, he said.

All power generated by the panels travels through a meter.

“It measures how much you put in and how much you get out,” he said.

For every unit put into the grid Meridian Energy was offering one unit credit, he said.

“It’s one for one.”

Mr Malloy estimated that 90 per cent of New Zealand energy companies would have equally competitive deals by the end of the year.

Installation for the average house costs $8000 and takes less than 10 years to pay itself off, he said.

The price of solar PV has dropped in recent years and the technology has become more effective.

The Stratford District Council is also facilitating solar heating installations by not charging for consent fees, inspections and processing.

by John Anthony – Taranaki Daily News

Last year 20 solar heating units were installed in Stratford district, 89 in New Plymouth and 40 in South Taranaki.

The Author

I took an interest in the Australian energy sector close to ten years ago and since then have monitored the trends, technologies and direction of the Australian Energy Market. I was drawn to the Australian solar market in 2008 and since then have worked heavily in the field. I am partnered with national and international solar energy companies, from manufacturers of solar panel and inverter technology, online software developers that introduce tools to quote, monitor and manage solar power systems and media organisations who like myself, closely monitor the solar and renewable energy sector.

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