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Clean and green - NIWA harnesses Nelson’s sunshine

Clean and green - NIWA harnesses Nelson’s sunshine

They are silent, produce no emissions when operating and create electricity - they are photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. NIWA Nelson has just installed 56 Jiawei 185W solar modules onto its rooftop to generate electricity.

“Being an environmentally responsible CRI, it makes sense to use as much of our abundant renewable energy resources as we can,” says NIWA Nelson Regional Manager, Ken Grange.

NIWA’s new solar photovoltaic power plant consists of north-facing solar panels which tilt skywards, to make the most of sunny Nelson. The photovoltaic cells can turn solar energy from sunlight directly into electricity.

In most photovoltaic cells, photons (light energy) hit the cells, stimulating electrons in the atoms of a semi-conducting material such as silicon. The energised electrons result in the generation of an electrical voltage, which can be used to help power the NIWA Nelson office.

There are many benefits for NIWA, one of which is that they will purchase less electricity. “It’s a long term investment that a small to mid-size business can make,” says Grange. “Another benefit is that NIWA is gathering information on actual operational use that will be made available to businesses considering such an investment,” says Grange.

NIWA’s 10.4 kilowatt system is expected to generate 15 megawatt hours per year, which is just over 25% of the power consumption of the NIWA Nelson office. The installation and supply of the panels cost $58,500+GST. The solar panels are expected to last for decades and have a 25-year manufacturer’s warranty, so NIWA can expect to benefit from the electricity generation well into the future.

Photovoltaic systems can be connected to the local electricity lines system. NIWA’s solar power system will generate surplus electricity if appliances running in the office cannot instantly use its output. The system has therefore been designed to enable NIWA to sell surplus electricity back to the power retailer.


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