Gareth Hughes

Clean energy: the real brighter future for New Zealand

by Gareth Hughes

Over the weekend I launched proposals that will make it easier for families to reap the benefits of solar panels and other small scale renewable distributed generation. At the Sustainable Energy Association of New Zealand conference and expo I talked about the need to establish a fair regime that will help families to reduce the cost of their power bills while receiving a fair price for any surplus energy that they generate.

With the price of solar panels dropping 50% in the last 18 months more and more Kiwis are looking to save money by installing solar PV panels, but they need certainty around what happens to the excess power theygenerate and feed back to the grid.

Gareth solar wideI am proposing a clean energy law that would see an amended objective for the Electricity Authority: “to promote greater use of renewable energy including from distributed generation sources” and a new amended function: “to establish and administer a fair regime for small scale renewable distributed electricity generation power purchase agreements.”

I would also like to see the Electricity Authority to establish and administer a regime to administer small scale renewable distributed generation that would see households or small businesses with surplus solar, wind and biogas electricity fed into the grid receive ten year power purchase agreements and a price paid for their surplus power that is fair and reasonable. You can read more about it here.

There are many benefits to seeing greater small scale distributed generation. Generating power close to where it is being used reduces transmission costs and losses, both at a local and national grid level. Increasing diversity of generation sources makes our grid more resilient. More renewable electricity generation from sources like solar or wind will help New Zealand meet its 90% renewable electricity target by 2025. Being able to see where our power comes from increases awareness of energy efficiency and conservation. Encouraging households to invest and local businesses to install systems will boost regional economic development and create jobs.

Looking to the future, this renewable energy source could play an increasingly important role in meeting electricity demand as the cost of smaller-scale technologies continues to decline and the price of retail electricity continues to rise and rise. Renewables like solar is the brighter future the Government should be looking at.

Published in Environment & Resource Management by Gareth Hughes on Mon, October 7th, 2013   

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