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

 

Crowdfinding: Awaroa Beach To Become Public Land If Appeal Succeeds

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says a privately-owned beach will become part of the Abel Tasman National Park if an online crowdfunding campaign to buy it succeeds... More>>

ALSO:

Meat Workers Union: Waitangi Mondayisation Flaunted By Large Employer Of Maori

At the AFFCO Talley owned meat plant in Rangiuru, the company has resorted to bullying and threats... saying they could be disciplined and their union sued for an unlawful strike if workers exercise their rights to a paid day off tomorrow. More>>

Earlier:

ETS Review: Modelling Documents Released

Three technical documents are being released to help New Zealanders engage with the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) review, Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett says. More>>

ALSO:

Northland: Govt Plan Targets Transport, Web, Maori Assets

The government has released a 10-year plan to attract investors and lift economic growth in Northland, a region that perennially underperforms the rest of the country even while being endowed with natural beauty, productive land, minerals, a potential workforce, scope for manufacturing, forestry and aquaculture, and proximity to Auckland. More>>

ALSO:

Statistics: Unemployment Rate Falls To 5.3 Percent

The unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent in the December 2015 quarter (from 6.0 percent), Statistics New Zealand said today. This is the lowest unemployment rate since March 2009. There were 16,000 fewer people unemployed than in the September ... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news