South Auckland: The Growth of Solar Technology

Low electricity bills, better electricity flow, and cleaner environment are currently the goal Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is looking into. To meet these goals, Mayor Phil Goff is teaming up with Vector and Entrust to take energy efficient solutions, including solar and battery technology, into the homes and schools of south Auckland suburbs Papakura and Takanini. Launched last March 13, Edmund Hillary School in Papakura with a solar-powered robot race, the Energy Efficient Communities Project, a partnership between Entrust, Auckland Council and Vector, will deliver free hot water heat control units, up to 15,000 LED lightbulbs, and energy advice to homeowners in Papakura and Takanini. Twelve local organisations, including schools and community facilities, will also receive a energy storage technology that stores the sun’s energy and delivers clean, reliable electricity when the sun isn’t shining. The provision of energy efficient technology will be complemented by an education programme in local schools which promotes simple actions that families can take to reduce energy bills. The Energy Efficient Communities Project is being run as a trial and it forms part of a multi-year, multi-million dollar partnership between the organisations to promote sustainable and renewable energy in Auckland including solar and battery technology. “EECP can make a real and practical difference for Aucklanders as the city builds a more sustainable energy network. Energy efficiency is good for the community and good for our city. It means more affordable electricity bills, healthier homes and less impact on our environment,” Auckland’s Mayor Phil Goff said. “We need to make our housing stock more efficient and healthier and it’s partnerships like this that seriously boost...

SeaCharger in New Zealand

The unmanned solar powered vessel just hit a snag en route to New Zealand. For the ones who doesn’t know what is SeaCharger, it is the first unmanned vessel that will be attempting to be the world’s first vessel to cross the pacific with remote human operation. Developer of Silicon Valley Damon McMillan said “since the boat seemed to be in good condition when it arrived in Hawaii, and since I didn’t want to pay to ship it back home in a crate, I chose to put it back in the water to see if it could make it to the other side of the Pacific.” Kiwi GP Neil Hutchison has been involved in coordinating the project from this side of the Pacific. His son David works for Google in Silicon Valley, and is friends with McMillan, and it was through their friendship that Neil became involved, but it hasn’t been easy. Misunderstandings with customs about the unmanned vessel meant Hutchison had to fill out forms declaring there was no food or animals on board, and facing restrictions of where SeaCharger could land. In its current state, however, making it to New Zealand at all looks unlikely, unless it can navigate to a Pacific current. “It’s like a floating log with a little bit of propulsion,” hutchison says. “You’ve got to have good conditions or it can’t go where you want it to go,” he added. With a haka group prepared to welcome SeaCharger, and the New Zealand Maritime Museum preparing a display for its arrival, much has been put on hold for the vessel’s uncertain future. Operated remotely...

New Zealand: Rolling out energy efficient homes

eBuilders in Whanganui made an eHaus conference to talk about building efficient and healthy homes. The conference discussed about on how to roll out “eHauses” on a larger scale. Director Baden Brown and co-director Jon Iliffe started eHaus in Whanganui in 2009. eHaus director Baden Brown said “it takes a paradigm shift in people’s thinking away from ‘How much can I buy now with what I’ve got’ versus ‘If I spend a little bit more today . . . my long-term costs are going to be less.” The company focuses on designing and building energy efficient homes which can predict how the house can perform when it comes to energy usage. “The house needed to be between 20-25 degrees Celsius throughout the entire year, and use “just a fraction” of the energy a normal home would use,” Mr Brown said. The design took into account factors such as the climate data in the location of the house, whether it was sheltered or exposed, how high it was above sea level, whether it was shaded by other buildings, which direction it faced, and the size of the windows. “Initial cost is more but long-term cost is significantly less than a standard home,” Mr. Brown added. “The reason it hasn’t been done to date here is basically it’s new technology for New Zealand. It’s been in Europe for a number of years. “You can actually model how it’s going to perform on paper and use that as a tool to improve its performance.” The company have 10 licensees around the country who were all represented at the conference in the weekend. The...

Solar Energy Federal Tax Incentives: Everything You Need to Know

The federal tax incentives or often referred to as the “premier tax manual for the solar industry,” those interested in solar tax and finance issues now have an entirely new edition at their disposal. For the first time in three years, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has released an updated called Guide to Federal Tax Incentives for Solar Energy. SEIA’s interim president and general counsel, Tom Kimbis said “this comprehensive document really gives SEIA members a leg up when it comes to navigating the tricky terrain of taxes. With the recent extension of the ITC, over the next five years the solar industry is expected to nearly triple in size. This resource will help solar companies stay up to speed on how policies born in Congress and across America’s state capitals impact their business.” Continuing with this theme, the popular SEIA Finance and Tax Seminar will be returning this December. This is the solar industry conference dedicated exclusively to the most impactful accounting, finance and tax issues facing the solar...

Solar Energy Without Subsidies

The strategies historically employed to spur expansion of the solar (PV) market are almost always “product oriented.” They are typically based on the progressive lowering of prices through economies of mass production, combined with subsidized buy-down programs or feed-in tariffs for residential and commercial users. Lowering cost per watt is seen as the key to unlocking a vast potential market for photovoltaics. Numerous past studies and development efforts have promoted this “product path” to solar (PV) market expansion. PV products are subsidized or supported with the primary goal of achieving economies of mass production and eliminating barriers to use. Examples include: federal and state buy-down programs coordinated government procurement of PV legislative packages supporting distributed energy legislative and regulatory assistance to states prohibition of restrictive covenants and ordinances At the same time, steps are taken to make the product (PV) more attractive to the consumer. These include: legislation that encourages deployment of PV systems, sales tax exemptions, interconnection standards, net metering laws, and other programs designed to ease or eliminate barriers to adoption. Here is a classic example as stated in a research report by the Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP): The product path requires government involvement to increase the diffusion rate of consumer [PV] products through setting market rules, making strategic purchases, and other innovative support. This product-centric approach emphasizes pushing photovoltaics into various applications or markets under the assumption that lower prices, attractive financing options, and the absence of barriers to implementation, will automatically lead to consumer demand. In contrast, the underlying belief in free-market enterprise is that people do things for their own reasons. So low price and...

Replacing Asphalt Roads To Solar Panels, Is It Possible Today?

We all know that solar is the best and the most common source of green energy. However, getting the maximum benefit of solar energy requires a lot of space for solar farms. One of the solutions to answer this problem is to replace asphalt roads, parking lots, sidewalks to solar panels. With this concept, New Zealand will have lots of space in city centres for solar panels that can produce carbon-free energy. The solar panels can also do other things, such as LED road signs and lighting. Solar roads should be a really good idea considering how many square metres of roads, driveways, bike paths, sidewalks, playgrounds, and parking lots are there in New Zealand. When they are replaced with solar panels, the electricity generated is more than enough of what the entire country uses. Solar Roadway’s Disadvantage One of the reasons why government hesitates to adopt this new technology is the cost. At present, roads are made as cheap as possible. And they are provided with as little maintenance as possible. Solar Roadways are a lot more expensive than the typical road- Moving the traffic to sideways as the paint needs to be restored each year as well as other overhead signage. Even when taking into account the value of LED road signs and lighting the costs still too high compared to the benefits you’ll get. So, the answer of whether solar panels will replace concrete or asphalt roads today, the answer is no, when all factors are considered. Currently, it is more feasible for a parking lot to install solar panels on their roofs than solar panels...