Solar power in New Zealand

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Solar powered channel marker

Solar power in New Zealand currently contributes 0.2 percent to the country's overall electricity generation. In the 2016 calendar year, an estimated 52 GWh of solar-generated electricity was contributed to the national grid, out of a total of 41,400 GWh.[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, and has since dropped significantly to NZ$9,000.[2]


As of April 2018, 1,385 MW of solar power has been installed in New Zealand. 19,134 solar power systems have been installed, 17,817 are residential systems.[3]

In 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.[4]

As of January 2015, New Zealand's largest solar power plant is on Sylvia Park's roof (shopping mall), with a total capacity of 350kW (1100 solar panels).[5]


Buy-back rates for solar power exported to the grid range from 7 cents to 12 cents[6]. 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.[7]

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.[8]

Environmental effect[edit]

In March 2016, a report released by Concept Consulting (commissioned by Consumer, EECA, and a number of electricity companies) 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,[1] and New Zealand electricity usage peaks in winter when solar generation is at its lowest, reducing its effectiveness.[9]


Source: NREL[10]
Year Photovoltaics CSP
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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Energy in New Zealand 2017". Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Retrieved 8 January 2018. 
  2. ^ "Prices of solar power systems". My Solar Quotes. Archived from the original on 2014-10-01. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Schoolgen". Genesis Energy. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Solar Power Buy-Back Rates NZ
  7. ^ Solar Power Self-Consumption
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "Electric cars not solar panels, says Environment Commissioner". Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. 22 March 2016. 
  10. ^ "PV Watts". NREL. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 

External links[edit]