Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


UC researcher shines a light on the economics of solar power

UC researcher shines a light on the economics of solar power

June 25, 2013

A University of Canterbury (UC) researcher says despite a drop in price, the economics of domestic solar power is still questionable.

Dr Alan Wood, a senior electrical and computer engineering lecturer, is exploring the economics of solar electricity for the householder as part of a $6.3 million projected funded by the as part of a Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment.

Dr Wood has developed a model which considers all the costs, income opportunities and the sunlight resource to calculate a financial return for solar electricity.

``Unfortunately, these calculations are not straightforward for a domestic householder to make independently from their system installer.

``This discourages householders from investing in solar electric systems. Our calculations show that it is not a financially worthwhile investment for a typical house. However, this is not a general result, and in some cases it could be worthwhile.”

Other than the panels, costs include installation, building consents, distribution company applications, electrical wiring and inverter technology to feed the solar power into a house’s 240 volt supply and into the grid.  Total costs could be $10,000.

``Unless there is a need for air conditioning, domestic electricity consumption is typically low during sunshine hours. Battery storage is expensive and we estimate the cost of cycling energy through batteries to be on a par with the retail electricity price.

``An alternative is to store solar energy as heat, by heating water in a domestic water cylinder when the sun shines. In some ways this is similar to the solar-thermal systems already available.

``Although a solar electric system dedicated to water heating is likely to be more expensive than a solar thermal system, it should have some reliability and maintenance advantages. Our results show that using solar electric panels and storing the energy as heat should have a positive net present value, although such systems are not yet commercially available. 

``Storing solar energy in hot water cylinders reduces overall electricity consumption, but can actually increase the peak demand of households. This is because with solar water heating, there is no incentive to remain on an electricity rate that allows control of hot water heating through ripple control systems.  

``On cloudy days, remote control of mains-electric heating of hot water would be lost. An increase in peak demand means a stronger electrical supply system is required, increasing some system costs.’’

Dr Wood is developing an on-line model which will be available to all New Zealanders for them to assess potential returns of solar power.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Interest Rates: RBNZ Hikes OCR To 3.5%, ‘Period Of Assessment’ Now Needed

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler raised the official cash rate as expected, while signalling a pause in rate hikes to assess the impact of moves so far this year. The kiwi dollar sank after Wheeler said its strength was “unjustified” and that the currency could have “a significant fall.” More>>

ALSO:

Fonterra: Canpac Site 'Resize' To Focus More On Paediatrics

Fonterra is looking at realigning its packing operations at Canpac, in the Waikato, to focus more on paediatric nutritionals... The proposed changes could mean around 110 roles may not be required at the site which currently employs 330. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Postie Plus Brand Gets 2nd Chance With Well-Funded Pepkor

The Postie Plus brand is getting a new lease of life after South Africa’s Pepkor bought the failed retailer’s assets out of administration and said it will use its purchasing power to reduce costs of stock and fatten margins. More>>

ALSO:

Warming: Warming Signs From State Of Climate Report

Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 'reflect trends of a warming planet' -- says the latest State of the Climate report, launched by U.S. and New Zealand scientists. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Embrace Falling Home Affordability, Says NZIER

Despair over the inability to afford a house is misplaced and should be embraced as an opportunity to invest in more wealth-creating activity, says the principal economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, Shamubeel Eaqub. More>>

Productivity Commission: NZ Regulation Not Keeping Pace

New Zealand regulators often have to work with out-of-date legislation, quality checks are under strain, and regulatory workers need better training and development. More>>

ALSO:

Callaghan Innovation: Investment To Help Deepen Innovation Reporting

Callaghan Innovation, the government’s high tech HQ for Kiwi business, is to help deepen New Zealand media coverage of the commercialisation of innovation through an arms-length partnership with independent business news service BusinessDesk. More>>

ALSO:

Tax Credits, Grants: Greens $1Bn R&D Plan

In the Party’s headline economic announcement, the Greens have launched their plan to build a smarter, more innovative economy which has as its centrepiece an additional $1 billion of government investment in research and development (R&D) above current spend, including tax breaks for business. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news