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Green’s Solar Plan just the start

BY DAVID SENN

Green’s Solar Plan just the start

With the cost of the average power bill skyrocketing, the Green’s new “Solar Homes” policy announcement comes as a breath of fresh air. Under the recent policy announcement, 30,000 homes will get to slash their power bills by installing solar PV panels on their roofs. The systems are estimated to generate an average 3,500 kWh per year, saving an estimated 100 GWh per year after the systems are installed. The technology is proven and is robust. And that sounds like a fair whack of power right?

Wrong. Let put that figure in perspective. Last year we consumed 39,560 GWh. The Green’s plan would generate just 0.25% of that figure. Under a “business as usual” scenario, the Energy Ministry (MBIE) estimates that figure would soar to 57,650 GWh in 2050. That would mean we will need to generate an additional 18,090 GWh just to keep up with rising demand.

One could also expect that by 2050, electric vehicles will be so ubiquitous and cheap to buy that most of the light vehicle fleet (23% of total energy demand) has changed over from combustion engines to electricity – adding another 10 or 12,000 GWh to the yearly electric demand.

And with the anticipated drop in the cost of PV and other energy efficient technologies; its likely that the residential gas network would become less viable, adding another 2 or 3,000 GWh to the electricity demand.

Adding that up that’s a lot of extra demand that needs to be found somehow – highlighting that more will need to be done to meet demand and keep electricity prices low.

It’s still early in the election year. So while the policy papers are being firmed up, why not include heat pump water heaters, which will save another 2,500 kWh per household, while shifting the power use away from peak load times to daytime peak solar times. New generation LED lights use up to 90% less

electricity than old ones. Lets not forget the role of the new generation smart appliances, that move power use to lower cost times of the day. Let the policy include mandating “smart grids” using smart household meters that can communicate with these devices using wireless technology that will operate these devices at the most cost-effective time of day to switch on and off.

And let the policy be part of the Electricity Authority’s mandate; removing it from the vagaries of political debate and allowing long term benefits to be achieved.

ENDS

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Gordon Campbell: On Last Night’s Debate, And The Collins Accusation

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