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New Zealand - Renewable Energy

New Zealand is one of the most forward thinking countries when it comes to green issues and the general attitude towards renewable energy sources is good. The government has plans to introduce more green energy sources for domestic suppliers and there are incentives for consumers to consider supplementing their home energy supply with solar panels, wind turbines and other equipment. Consumers can opt for stand alone power systems (referred to as SAPS) if they prefer, so that they use nothing from the national grid. The cost of installation can often be high, although this can be offset in the future against reduced or non-existent energy bills or even earning a small income from the system.

One of the main sources for domestic renewable energy is solar energy. New Zealand has on average around 2000 hours of bright sunshine every year and there are initiatives in place to encourage people to use this. Most people opt for solar energy first of all to heat the water in their home. This usually only requires around 3 panels, but there are those who want solar power to run the whole house. In this instance it is essential to be sure that you have a roof which is in the right direction for capturing the maximum amount of the sun’s rays and that you can install enough solar panels for your needs.

Currently only 1.6% of homes in New Zealand use this form of energy for heating their hot water but the number of homes is increasing each year. There are grants available to homeowners through the EECA programme for the installation of this type of heating. Some installers offer cash back on their systems when they have been installed. There are also systems which allow generated electricity which is not needed in your home to be fed back to the grid, helping you to earn money from the system.

Other types of renewable energy that can be used include wood pellet fires and boilers which can be used to heat hot water and provide central heating for the home. Wood burning stoves are particularly popular in rural areas as these can also be used with a back boiler to heat hot water and run radiators and a solid fuel range can be used for cooking as well.

Wind turbines are frequently in use in rural areas and large parts of the country do experience strong winds, making this the ideal way to generate power for the home although these should not be used as the sole source of energy production as if there is no wind then there is no energy generated. Most homeowners also have solar panels or their own generator in addition to cover for such instances.

Another potential source of energy for those in rural areas is micro-hydro. This is for those who have a water source on their property such as a river or stream and when compared with other renewable energy sources, is fairly cheap and consistent. There are three sizes of micro-hydro units. The first is up to 5kW, the second is from 5 to 20kW and the last one is for more than 20kW and up to 10MW. The last is usually reserved for commercial use. The smallest size is usually the one that domestic users opt for. If you decide on a micro hydro system then you need to have specialist help for installation. The waterway that you plan to use will need to be checked to ensure that it is suitable and that the source is reliable – a stream that dries up each summer is of no use. You may need to get permission to install this scheme from the local authorities. There is a certain amount of maintenance involved with this type of power as the unit needs to be checked every few months for debris and should be cleaned regularly.

Useful Resources

New Zealand Clean Energy Centre
PO Box 487
Taupo New Zealand
Phone: 64 7 376 7107

Energy Wise

671 Kent Road
New Plymouth 4371
New Zealand
Tel: 06 752 2765

Power Options NZ
124 Greenacres St
Dunedin 9003
New Zealand
Tel: +64 3 476 1112

Renewable Energy North
PO Box 46
Bay of Island 0241
New Zealand
Tel: 027 276 1501

Read more about this country

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