Nelson-based all-in-one solar power company SolarCity has set a pretty ambitious goal - to make New Zealand 100 percent solar by 2020. It’s already started to make inroads, partnering with the Nelson City Council as part of the nation-wide The Solar Promise campaign, and now it’s announced another partnership, this time with power company Meridian Energy.
Specific details of the partnership are not yet available, but the partnership will offer Meridian customers access to leading solar hot water technologies, resulting in reduced energy bills and hopefully, reduced carbon emissions.
According to a BRANZ report, a standard solar water heating system can produce, on average, up to 75 percent of a household’s water heating.
Indeed, the sun’s capacity to provide us with energy is enormous. Just one hour’s worth of sun is enough to power the world for a year.
Meridian’s general manager of retail, Bill Highet, says solar is a technology that can empower customers to take control of their energy use.
“We know lots of our customers want to make savings and want solutions that are kind on the environment. With this solar opportunity our goal is to reduce our customers’ average residential energy bill by around 22 percent,” he says.
SolarCity’s chief executive Andrew Booth says partnering with Meridian will make solar an even more affordable technology.
“As our communities face tighter budgets, this is an opportunity for people to make real savings, while using the sun’s renewable energy to make a positive difference in the fight to stop climate change,” he says.
Currently the only financial support for households looking to invest in household solar power is a $1000 installation subsidy available through the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA).
EECA chief executive Mike Underhill has welcomed the partnership between Meridian and SolarCity, describing it as another important step in the uptake of renewable water heating technologies.
“Consumers place a very low value on ongoing energy costs compared with the up-front capital costs,” he says. “This represents a considerable barrier for solar water heating technologies. Smart partnerships that make renewable energy options more affordable are an important part of the solution to increasing uptake of solar water heating.”
The partnership with SolarCity isn’t Meridian’s first venture into solar territory. As well as also being involved in The Solar Promise campaign, the company is sponsoring the efforts of Victoria University’s First Light team—the only team from the southern hemisphere to ever be selected to compete in the US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition.
The team has been developing its First Light House for the past couple of years and come September this year, it will compete against 20 other international teams in the competition, with just seven days to construct its solar-powered house. The competition challenges the teams to design and build a solar-powered house which can be constructed in a week. Its performance is then tested in a series of 10 competitions.
You can check out the team's latest blog in Idealog Design HERE.