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SEANZ: Prime time to future-proof the grid

The Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand says while the government’s budget announcement that $4.6 billion will be spent upgrading the national electricity grid over the next 10 years should be applauded, careful consideration needs to be given to how it can be future-proofed.

Solar energy NZThe Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand says while the government’s budget announcement that $4.6 billion will be spent upgrading the national electricity grid over the next 10 years should be applauded, careful consideration needs to be given to how it can be future-proofed.

“If the plan is simply to make the pipes bigger enabling more electricity to be shifted between the islands, then I think we are missing the point," says Brendan Winitana, chairman of SEANZ, which represents stakeholders in the clean energy space.

“Electricity supply in New Zealand still has one major challenge. It is largely centralised generation, moving power from the hydro lakes in the deep south to the rest of the country.
 
“Are there better ways, where as part of a much needed upgrade, local electricity generated from renewable sources such as solar and wind are also looked at and consideration given to how these might be integrated into the grid?”

He said now was the best time to plan for distributing electricity generation to future-proof New Zealand power supply.

“It was disappointing that the roll-out of smart meters did not include an option for dispatchable loads. The smart meter boxes currently being installed all over New Zealand have no means to service people putting power back into the grid. This could have been incorporated at little additional expense at the time of installation. Not thinking about the future means that this will now have to be done as a separate exercise at considerable additional cost."
 
He added that New Zealand has the ability to be a leader in renewable energy and should be using the opportunity to make as much provision for this in the future.

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