Solar power in New Zealand
Solar power in New Zealand currently contributes less than 0.1 percent to the country's overall electricity generation. In the 2015 calendar year, an estimated 33 GWh of solar-generated electricity was contributed to the national grid, out of a total of 42,928 GWh.
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, and has since dropped by 75 percent to NZ$10,000 (US$7,800 or US$2.60/W).
As of January 2014, solar photovoltaic systems have 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.
As of December 2013, New Zealand's largest solar power plant was the 99 kWp array installed at the Yealand Estate winery in Blenheim. In February 2014 a 100 kW system on the rooftops of Palmerston North City Council's Central Administration Building and the City’s Convention Centre was connected.
Meridian Energy offered net metering as early as 2008, but since 2013 only offers this on the first 5 kWh exported to the grid, remaining exports are credited at a lower rate. If net metering is not offered, the largest system that becomes economical is one that generates no more than is directly consumed. For a homeowner that leaves during the day and consumes minimal energy until later in the day, net metering is essential. For a larger system, sized to provide all of the electricity used during the year, net metering needs to be available continuously, so that excess generated during the summer can be consumed in the winter. Net metering best practices recommend no limit, either individual or aggregate, and allowing perpetual roll over of kilowatt credits. Since electric meters normally accurately record in both directions, net metering is an accounting procedure, and not something that requires notification or signing up for in advance. It is, however, something that power companies need to anticipate and accommodate.
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.
In March 2016, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment found that solar PV panels do little to reduce New Zealand's carbon footprint as it would do in other countries. New Zealand already generates 81 percent of its electricity from renewable resources, and New Zealand electricity usage peaks in winter when solar generation is at its lowest, reducing its effectiveness.
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- 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.
- "Electric cars not solar panels, says Environment Commissioner". Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. 22 March 2016.
- "PV Watts". NREL. Retrieved 26 June 2012.