solar panels margaret stewart house

Solar saves money for more important things

Solar is a great, clean way to produce power. This morning I was at an inspirational event, where the community had raised money to install panels on the Wellington Cancer Society’s patient’s house.

More than $76,000 was raised to install 116 solar panels on Margaret Stewart House, next to Wellington hospital and it’s estimated to save more than $300,000 across the 25-year warranty. I spoke with some of the patients about staying there and they expressed warmth about the service they received. It definitely beats staying at a cheap motel by yourself when you have weeks of treatment to go through. I’m glad more money can now be spent on supporting Kiwis with cancer than just paying more on the power bills.

Here’s what I said at the official opening this morning:

Kia ora ngā mihi nui, kia koutou, kia ora.

It’s great to be here with you all today to share in the celebration.

I always like to start at the beginning. In a book a few of you will recognise, it was once said, ‘let there be light,’ so let’s start there with the light. Now about 150 million kilometres away, at the centre of our solar system, our sun burns bright. At its core, hydrogen atoms are fused into helium by nuclear fusion. After billions of collisions the sunlight takes – can you believe this 10,000 to 170,000 years to finally reach the surface and escape into space. Those photons of energy then travel at the speed of light for eight minutes to reach Earth and if they hit a solar panel – free, clean electricity is produced.

It’s fantastic to see the 116 solar panels on top of Margaret Stewart House grabbing some of those photons. It’s great to think hundreds of thousands of dollars will be saved to be spent on more important things like caring for Kiwis with cancer, than just paying the power bill. It’s inspiring to see how community fundraising got those panels up thee.

Just across my lifetime the costs of producing solar power have dropped by 99% – just like computers, and continue to drop rapidly. We don’t have to drill, mine and frack fossil fuels any more that harm our planet. Some in the industry want to stop solar’s growth with taxes, ridiculous red tape and unfair rules for their own self-interest but no one can stop the sun – even Maui could only slow it down! I’m privileged to be here to join the celebrations with you and I think it’s because I’ve been championing clean energy and campaigning for a fair go for solar in Parliament.

My vision is solar panels on schools, universities, prisons, hospitals and even Parliament producing clean, cheap energy. We could be the envy of the world and the first 100% renewable country. Congratulations again, thank you to everyone who donated and make this fantastic achievement possible. I guess you could call this a very empowered initiative!