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Photo of New Zealand by Majella Waterworth

Clean Power

Will This Solar Farm Blind New Zealand Pilots?

No, of course it won’t, but I’m sure New Zealand’s biggest solar farm (150MW) being built at Christchurch Airport will attract its fair share of FUD. Watch out for scaremongering about “scary” renewables.

New Zealand has long been a world leader in hydro and geothermal power, but lags in renewable energy from the sun. This solar farm will almost double installed capacity. As, at the end of August 2021, New Zealand had just 170 MW of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) solar power installed, of which 57 MW were installed in the preceding 24 months.

Australian company Solar Bay is investing $100 million into the solar farm, which is expected to power up to 20% of local homes. The location is ideal, close to the country’s second largest city, located on flat and sunny plains, and close to transmission lines. It’s the ultimate site.

Airport CEO Malcolm Johns said it was part of the airport’s plan to become climate positive over the coming decade. “Over the past decade, our team has systematically decarbonised our business. We’ve reduced 85 percent of our direct emissions and we’re on track to be carbon zero well before the city’s goal of 2030 and New Zealand’s goal of 2050.”

New Zealand still has a high dependence on imported oil. However, as the country’s vehicle fleet moves towards electricity, that should reduce and be replaced by renewable energy. 

Do electric cows give electric milk?  

More good news from New Zealand: Solagri is installing solar and batteries on dairy farms at no upfront cost. It is an innovative business model designed to get farmers into renewable energy. Solagri leases the land from the farmer, installs the solar panels and the batteries, and guarantees low power prices for the long term. 

“Solagri achieves competitive dairy farm energy prices by aggregating the purchase and installation of solar for many farms at once, and negotiating on behalf of its customers to drive down the cost of the electricity they get from the grid.”

Having solar plus battery plus grid connection means there is no need for a backup generator. Not only that, but your shed gets a DC fast charger at no cost for when you’re ready to get an electric vehicle. The New Zealand government aims to make New Zealand the Norway of the south. So, that EV should be coming along soon. …

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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].


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