by Gareth Hughes
Solar could make a bigger contribution to New Zealand electricity supply with its price plummeting and a new international report out optimistic about the transformation of the industry.
In New Zealand we have only around 1-2 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation despite having over 2000 hours of bright sunshine each year, and plenty of roofs to put panels on. Brendan Winitana, chairman of the New Zealand Sustainable Energy Association, has said the cost of installing solar photovoltaic panels had dropped by close to 50 per cent over the past 18 month and he’s predicting revenue growth of more than 170% in the next five years.
The plummeting PV price is also highlighted in the Bloomberg New Energy Finance report out recently that describes financing of US solar projects is in the midst of a transformation, with new business models, new investors, and new financing vehicles gaining sway.
A couple of key statistics that come out of the report are:
Given global greenhouse gas emissions are increasing, its vital solar plays a role in our future energy mix. In New Zealand we could be doing more to promote solar energy. To start, it wasn’t smart for the Government to axe the solar hot water grant scheme in last week’s Budget but instead could have extended it, and encouraged cheap or rates-based-loans to help with upfront costs. The Government could likewise support more grid-connected solar PV utilising all those rooftops, increasing efficiency and adding to resilience.
Solar does have a bright future and while opponents can’t hide behind the perceived high cost argument any more, it will struggle if Governments continue to focus-on, promote, and subsidise fossil fuels.