Home > My Solar Quotes Blog > New Zealand Parliament Embraces Solar Power

New Zealand Parliament Embraces Solar Power

By Felicity Wolfe on in New Zealand Energy News

New Zealand Parliament Embraces Solar Power

Over 560 solar panels have been installed on the roof of Parliament House. Source: Parliamentary Services

Aotearoa-New Zealand’s Government is embracing green energy with 561 solar panels installed and recently switched on in January 2023 to power Parliament House.

The 200 kilowatt solar array is expected to save the New Zealand Parliament about $31,000 in power costs and 22 tonnes of carbon equivalent annually.

The project cost about $575,000 and will contribute towards the overall electricity needs of the entire precinct, Parliamentary Service Chief Executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero says.

The solar installation is part of a wider sustainability project being overseen by Parliamentary Services. More panels installed on two new Green Star rated buildings which will be built to provide workspaces and meeting areas for more than 500 employees.

The solar installation is not the first time panels have been on Parliament House. 

Greenpeace protest with solar panels on Parliament House

In 2015, four Greenpeace demonstrators scaled Parliament House with solar panels to highlight the Government’s lack of climate change action. The panels powered a mobile wifi unit which allowed the protesters to charge phones and hold online discussions over the course of the day. It was removed when they left. 

There was also an investigation into installing solar panels on Parliament House in 2019. The idea was shelved at that time, with then Speaker Trevor Mallard noting an array would not be able to be off-grid due to the number of people working late at night in the Parliament precinct.

Gareth Hughes (previously a member of the Green Party) told Newshub in 2019 he'd "love to see solar panels on Parliament". He said, "it's a great way to save taxpayer money by reducing power bills and send a strong message to taxpayers we are committed to taking climate change." 

Sustainability Journey

Parliamentary Service Chief Executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero and Buildings Project Management Office Manager Dave Wills on the Parliament House roof.
 Source: Parliamentary Service
Parliamentary Service Chief Executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero and Buildings Project Management Office Manager Dave Wills on the Parliament House roof.
Source: Parliamentary Service

Mr Gonzalez-Montero says the Parliament House solar installation and the wider sustainability plans for the precinct are vital as New Zealand works to a net carbon zero future.

“Making sustainable choices is a priority for us, and this is one way we can work towards our vision of having an environmentally sustainable New Zealand Parliament”.

He says placing the panels on the century-old, Category 1 heritage building solar panel installation brought additional challenges for installers form Sunergise. The array had to meet specific design requirements.

“As Parliament House is a historic building, great care was taken during the installation to ensure the panels did not impact or alter the building’s appearance.”

Mr Gonzalez-Montero says the Parliamentary Service Buildings Team worked very closely with Wellington City Council, Heritage New Zealand, and their own architects on the resource consent application for the solar panels.

To ensure there was no visual impact care was taken to select a system that would have a low visual impact and reflectivity. 

The design also ensures the panels are in line with the existing building profile by not incorporating any solar position tracking or steep panel angles.

The panels were installed in stages on the roof of Parliament House over six months in 2022. 

“With three buildings and over 1,800 people working on precinct, Parliament needs a significant amount of power to operate. These solar panels will reduce the amount of fossil fuels Parliament relies on, which means we can decrease our carbon footprint and impact on the environment.”

He says that screens displaying the panels’ output in real-time have been installed in the Beehive reception.

Sustainable Parliament 

Mr Gonzalez-Montero says the solar panels are part of a much larger sustainability transformation underway across the parliament precinct.

The Parliamentary Service began upgrading lighting in highly occupied areas in Parliament House with LEDs in 2016, leading to significant cost savings of $125,000 and eliminating 42 tonnes of carbon equivalent per annum. All lighting is now being replaced with LEDs including in the Beehive Executive Wing.

The Parliamentary Service is also moving ahead with constructing new Greenstar-rated buildings to house MPs and staff. Tenders for the work are currently underway, with the Parliamentary Service expecting early civil construction works and manufacturing of base isolators to be underway later in 2023. 

Mr Gonzalez-Montero says the buildings are being designed to achieve the highest Greenstar sustainability rating by incorporating environmentally conscious design and ensuring carbon reduction during their lifespan.

In addition to more solar panels, they will feature a range of sustainable features, including waste sorting and improved recycling, rainwater harvesting and elimination of natural gas use on the parliamentary precinct.

There are also 20 electric vehicle chargers which were installed in the Parliament car park in February 2022.

“The units are currently run offline, however we are working to install localised monitoring of the EV chargers and their usage across the site.”

Post your own comment

All comments are approved by an administrator so your comment will not appear immediately after submission.

<< Back to Blog Articles