Up take of solar energy in New Zealand
The main source of energy in New Zealand comes from Gas, Geothermal and Hydro. However solar energy has gained popularity because of the low cost of production and the low cost of acquiring solar panels.
Solar energy is abundantly available in New Zealand with immense potential of generating a huge amount of primary energy. New Zealand has technologies that can convert this type of energy to electricity at a lower cost. Solar energy has the potential to supply energy for the foreseeable future in commercial, industrial and residential areas.
Solar energy can help the country to greatly diversify her current energy sources with the aim of growing the manufacturing sector. As a result, the country has initiatives and mechanisms to overcome the market barriers and the cost facing the technology of producing this energy.
What is the current situation and the market contribution of solar energy in New Zealand?
Solar energy contributes to over 3 percent of total energy in New Zealand. Around 2200 units of solar are installed per year particularly in residential places spurred by the government initiative in the savings of the energy.
Solar energy is slowly replacing the thermal generation of electricity and has created employment of over five thousand people. More importantly, solar energy is mitigating the risk of carbon emission to the atmosphere produced from thermal generation.
The production of solar is well established in remote areas and often done on stand alone applications. The cost of producing energy using solar ranges between 35 – 60 c/kWh. Solar energy from the rooftops of buildings generates around 40GWh of electricity per year.
Solar energy is distributed across the country by use of retail companies or power lines. The distribution trend continues to increase. The use of solar energy has become a common phenomenon in the country since around 1.6 percent of home-owners in the country have installed solar water heating systems. Presently, over 3500 new installations of water systems are witnessed in the country each year. The number is expected to continue at a rate of around 40 percent per year.
What has made the country to embrace the use of solar energy?
One of the reasons is the cost of production. The cost of producing solar energy in the country is cheap when comparing it to other sources such as hydro;
Another reason is that solar is a clean energy with no effects on the environment. Solar energy does emit any carbon to the atmosphere hence ensuring a clean environment;
Further, New Zealand has over 2000 hours of sunshine in the whole year that is not utilized.
Overall; statistics on the uptake of solar energy in New Zealand continue to grow at a rate of 40 percent per year.