Solar power in New Zealand

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Solar potential of New Zealand
Solar panels on a home in Auckland

Solar power in New Zealand is on the rise, but operates in an entirely free market with no form of subsidies or intervention from the New Zealand Government. As of February 2020, New Zealand has 118 MW of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) solar power installed, of which 25 MW were installed in the preceding 12 months.[1]

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; by 2019 this had dropped to approx. NZ$8,500.[2]

Adoption[edit]

As of February 2020, 26,709 solar power systems have been installed in New Zealand. For new installations, the average residential system size was 4.6 kW and the average commercial system was 13.2 kW.[3]

The largest solar power system on a school in New Zealand was officially opened in a ceremony in February 2019 at Kaitaia College. Kelvin Davis, unveiled a plaque to acknowledge the installation of the 368 solar panel project which is spread across the rooftop of multiple buildings on the school campus.[4]

By January 2014, solar photovoltaic systems had 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.[5]

As of 2021, New Zealand's largest solar power plant is in the Wairau Valley in Marlborough with a total capacity of 2.2MVA, 1.4MW is connected as at March 2021.[6]

In July 2019 Refining NZ announced plans for a 26MW solar farm at the Marsden Point Oil Refinery.[7] In February 2020 Genesis Energy Limited announced plans for a 300MW facility in the Waikato.[8] In February 2021 Far North Solar Farm applied for resource consent for a 16MW farm on the Aupouri Peninsula in Northland.[9]

Cost-effectiveness[edit]

Buy-back rates for solar power exported to the grid range from 7 cents to 12 cents.[10] Cost-effectiveness of a residential solar power occurs when system owners aim to use more of their solar power than what they export, by means of timed appliances, turning on appliances when the sun is out, energy management systems and battery storage. Commercial buildings that use power during the day can get a high return on their investment.[11]

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.[12]

Statistics[edit]

Source: NREL[13]
Year Photovoltaics CSP
MWp GWh MWp GWh
2007 3.4
2008 3.4
2009 3.6
2010 3.8
2011 4.1
2012 4.8
2013 7.0
2014 16.6
2015 32.6
Installed solar generation as of 31 December 2020[14]
Network reporting region Installations Capacity (kW) Uptake (%)
Far North (Top Energy) 1,115 5,649 3.37
Whangarei and Kaipara (Northpower) 1,232 5,724 2.04
Waitemata (Vector) 3,100 13,397 1.29
Auckland (Vector) 2,787 15,510 0.78
Counties (Counties Power) 951 4,510 2.12
Thames Valley (Powerco) 1,012 4,260 1.38
Waikato (WEL Networks) 1,320 6,164 1.40
Waipa (Waipa Networks) 707 3,293 2.52
King Country (The Lines Company) 84 499 0.35
Tauranga (Powerco) 1,781 7,945 1.99
Rotorua (Unison Networks) 294 1,346 0.93
Eastern Bay of Plenty (Horizon Energy) 314 1,399 1.26
Taupo (Unison Networks) 164 596 0.95
Eastland (Eastland Network) 357 1,471 1.38
Hawke's Bay (Unison Networks) 1,154 5,522 1.79
Central Hawke's Bay (Centralines) 139 737 1.62
Southern Hawke's Bay (Scanpower) 51 231 0.76
Wairarapa (Powerco) 664 2,671 2.57
Taranaki (Powerco) 696 3,220 1.17
Whanganui (Powerco) 425 1,766 1.25
Manawatu (Powerco) 693 3,145 1.22
Kapiti and Horowhenua (Electra) 744 3,083 1.63
Wellington (Wellington Electricity) 1,484 6,048 0.84
North Island 21,268 98,184 1.31
Nelson (Nelson Electricity) 186 734 2.02
Tasman (Network Tasman) 1,206 5,696 2.93
Marlborough (Marlborough Lines) 672 3,441 2.57
Buller (Buller Electricity) 23 99 0.49
West Coast (Westpower) 48 248 0.35
North Canterbury (MainPower) 1,035 4,714 2.50
Central Canterbury (Orion) 3,052 14,388 1.46
Ashburton (Electricity Ashburton) 270 1,294 1.35
South Canterbury (Alpine Energy) 469 2,144 1.40
Waitaki (Network Waitaki) 103 523 0.79
Queenstown (Aurora Energy) 309 1,698 1.82
Central Otago (Aurora Energy) 752 3,484 3.36
East Otago (OtagoNet) 211 1,086 1.38
Dunedin (Aurora Energy) 365 1,412 0.65
Southland (The Power Company) 396 2,285 1.08
Invercargill (Electricity Invercargill) 112 552 0.64
South Island 9,209 43,799 1.60
Total 30,477 141,984 1.39


Solar power installations rose steadily from 2013 to 2019 (see table to the left for detail)
Solar installations - numbers, sizes and proportion of total installed capacity from 2013[15]
Month end ICP count ICP uptake rate (%) Total capacity installed (MW) Avg. capacity installed (kW) ICP count - new installations Avg. capacity - new installations (kW)
31/08/13 1403 0.0697 5.535 3.945 244 4.19
30/09/13 1651 0.08204 6.337 3.838 126 3.269
31/10/13 1830 0.09094 6.872 3.755 169 3.206
30/11/13 2065 0.10253 7.734 3.745 236 3.624
31/12/13 2236 0.11092 8.326 3.724 174 3.475
31/01/14 2407 0.11931 9.023 3.749 169 3.646
28/02/14 2679 0.13277 9.991 3.729 274 3.551
31/03/14 2925 0.14485 11.163 3.816 246 4.697
30/04/14 3124 0.15457 12.001 3.842 200 4.145
31/05/14 3376 0.16688 12.914 3.825 249 3.91
30/06/14 3664 0.18095 13.991 3.818 287 3.741
31/07/14 3976 0.19622 15.144 3.809 315 3.653
31/08/14 4208 0.20744 16.236 3.858 229 4.393
30/09/14 4478 0.2205 17.275 3.858 269 3.84
31/10/14 4787 0.23549 18.743 3.915 306 4.777
30/11/14 5123 0.25178 20.456 3.993 337 5.134
31/12/14 5423 0.26616 21.634 3.989 298 3.856
31/01/15 5674 0.2783 22.643 3.991 249 4.004
28/02/15 5898 0.28907 23.558 3.994 228 3.918
31/03/15 6170 0.30216 24.616 3.99 273 3.699
30/04/15 6438 0.31496 25.567 3.971 267 3.547
31/05/15 6699 0.32741 26.52 3.959 262 3.685
30/06/15 7057 0.34462 27.884 3.951 355 3.736
31/07/15 7476 0.36477 29.388 3.931 418 3.548
31/08/15 7805 0.38047 31.367 4.019 326 5.992
30/09/15 8224 0.40048 32.924 4.003 403 4.295
31/10/15 8576 0.41715 34.025 3.968 349 3.682
30/11/15 8953 0.43511 35.431 3.957 378 3.742
31/12/15 9377 0.45512 37.126 3.959 425 3.986
31/01/16 9622 0.46681 38.044 3.954 262 3.49
29/02/16 9991 0.48429 39.688 3.972 373 4.524
31/03/16 10326 0.5004 40.851 3.956 342 3.469
30/04/16 10676 0.51679 42.079 3.941 351 3.49
31/05/16 11043 0.53401 43.338 3.924 372 3.404
30/06/16 11435 0.55263 44.76 3.914 391 3.471
31/07/16 11793 0.56931 45.967 3.898 369 3.382
31/08/16 12189 0.58789 47.38 3.887 399 3.5
30/09/16 12574 0.6057 48.717 3.874 398 3.448
31/10/16 12922 0.62182 50.278 3.891 349 4.443
30/11/16 13305 0.63958 51.635 3.881 382 3.498
31/12/16 13654 0.65528 52.972 3.88 346 3.755
31/01/17 13909 0.66732 53.867 3.873 261 3.561
28/02/17 14213 0.68104 54.926 3.865 309 3.551
31/03/17 14573 0.69759 56.296 3.863 336 3.767
30/04/17 14897 0.71257 57.395 3.853 335 3.393
31/05/17 15231 0.72786 58.537 3.843 341 3.349
30/06/17 15661 0.74764 60.437 3.859 437 4.356
31/07/17 16040 0.76499 62.096 3.871 384 4.145
31/08/17 16531 0.78766 63.839 3.862 499 3.494
30/09/17 16935 0.80588 65.325 3.857 405 3.565
31/10/2017 17267 0.82068 66.942 3.877 344 4.865
30/11/2017 17709 0.84051 68.783 3.884 444 4.055
31/12/2017 18049 0.85537 70.185 3.889 349 4.096
31/01/2018 18329 0.86851 71.458 3.899 290 4.424
28/02/2018 18687 0.88453 72.872 3.9 363 3.91
31/03/2018 19109 0.90346 74.449 3.896 408 3.696
30/04/2018 19427 0.9176 75.675 3.895 320 3.814
31/05/2018 19775 0.93288 77.216 3.905 351 4.402
30/06/2018 20050 0.94481 78.63 3.922 273 4.934
31/07/2018 20368 0.95864 80.226 3.939 332 4.896
31/08/2018 20752 0.97558 81.682 3.936 391 4.92
30/09/2018 21180 0.99479 83.907 3.962 419 5.261
31/10/2018 21589 1.01311 86.349 4 414 5.868
30/11/2018 22016 1.03179 88.544 4.022 443 4.936
31/12/2018 22355 1.04626 90.16 4.033 352 4.879
31/01/2019 22643 1.05949 91.464 4.039 299 4.487
28/02/2019 22957 1.07312 93.118 4.056 331 4.877
31/03/2019 23286 1.08698 95.143 4.086 400 5.149
30/04/2019 23582 1.09973 96.806 4.105 322 5.122
31/05/2019 23960 1.11614 99.359 4.147 404 6.225
30/06/2019 24220 1.127 100.949 4.168 288 5.322
31/07/2019 24512 1.13938 102.868 4.197 321 6.089
31/08/2019 24818 1.15214 104.602 4.215 351 5.369
30/09/2019 25109 1.16429 106.253 4.232 301 5.871
31/10/2019 25448 1.17886 110.317 4.335 375 11.029
30/11/2019 25749 1.19101 111.947 4.348 316 5.292

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Installed distributed generation trends". Electricity Authority.
  2. ^ "The Big Reveal: The Growth Of Solar Power In New Zealand - From 2013 To 2019". My Solar Quotes.
  3. ^ "Installed distributed generation trends". Electricity Authority.
  4. ^ "New Zealand's largest solar energy system on a school opens at Kaitaia College". SEANZ. 27 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Schoolgen". Genesis Energy.
  6. ^ "New Zealand's 'most beautiful' solar panel farm makes itself home in Marlborough". Stuff. 2021-03-20. Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  7. ^ "Refining NZ plans country's biggest solar farm". New Zealand Herald. 7 July 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Jamie Gray (21 February 2020). "Genesis Energy sets sights on north Waikato solar power". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 February 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Denise Piper (14 February 2021). "New Zealand's largest solar farm proposed for top of country". Stuff. Retrieved 15 February 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Solar Power Buy-Back Rates NZ". My Solar Quotes.
  11. ^ "Solar Power Self-Consumption". My Solar Quotes.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "PV Watts". NREL. Retrieved 26 June 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "Installed distributed generation trends". Electricity Authority. Retrieved 1 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Electricity Authority - EMI (market statistics and tools)". www.emi.ea.govt.nz. Retrieved 2019-12-21.

External links[edit]