At the bottom of the world, New Zealand is doing a pretty good job of being ahead of the the game when it comes to renewables but this is not the full story and there is more we could do.
Energy is renewable when it comes from resources that are naturally replenished such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat. New Zealand is pretty lucky to have renewable energy resources in plentiful supply. Figures from the Electricity Authority (EANZ) show that in 2014 New Zealand generated approximately 80% of our energy from renewable resources. The Government’s Energy Strategy aims to lift this to 90% by 2025. Source: EANZ figures from 2015.
In our homes we collectively use 32% of NZ’s total electricity. We heat our water, run our fridges and keep our homes warm. But the average New Zealand household still produces about 1 tonne of C0²-e per year through the use of electricity. This is because New Zealand’s renewable sources of electricity such as hydro, wind and geothermal are used for the base demand. When the usage peaks, such as when we get home at night or on cold days, the extra demand is filled with coal and gas generation.
We can remove the peaks and lower our reliance on fossil fuels by reducing the peaks and troughs and having distributed power generation, such as home solar systems.
Actually, solar homes do a bit of both. They distribute the power generation and the owners of solar systems tend to work harder to shift their load out of peak time and into sunshine hours, to maximise their self consumption and savings.
According to SEANZ between 2013 and 2016 the solar PV installed in New Zealand is estimated to have avoided about 4,800 to 29,000t CO²-e per year, with a value of around $24,000 in 2013, rising to about $560,000 in 2016. In 2016, the emissions avoided are equivalent to removing 6,126 cars from the road for year.
Source: SEANZ report. Solar PV and batteries in New Zealand – Consumer Centric Electricity. ITP renewables Australia.
At iGenerate, we think that anything we can do to reduce the use of fossil fuels is vital for the world we live in.
There are 1.7 million households in NZ, currently only .8% are solar. Our uptake has been lower than other countries where solar subsidies have significantly encouraged installation. But Solar is NZ is growing on it’s own merits. And it’s growing because of those merits. Those that install are doing so for environmental and economic reasons. And as electricity prices keep going up, more and more are moving to a system that is good for their household budget as well as being great for the environment.