In a rapidly evolving energy landscape where decarbonisation is the number one goal for the energy industry in New Zealand, a few New Zealand lines companies are leading the charge in exploring groundbreaking solar and smart technology trials that promise to revolutionise electricity distribution.
These innovative initiatives are not only benefiting customers but also addressing the pressing challenge of sustainable energy distribution. In this blog, we delve into the transformative projects undertaken by The Lines Company (TLC) and their partners, as they leverage solar energy in exciting new ways to create a brighter, greener, and more equitable future for communities across New Zealand.
1. Powering Up Tūrangi Homes: A Sustainable Path Forward
Solar Panels On Home In Tūrangi - Source: TLC
TLC has teamed up with Tūwharetoa Health Charitable Trust (THCT) and Maru Energy Trust (Maru) to launch a pioneering solar project in Tūrangi.
All parties involved are delighted to be able to provide support to the nine whānau in Tūrangi to take part in this programme of sustainable energy solutions, where four households have solar power installed (up to 5.9 kW each) and three households that will have new hot water cylinders.
The four homes equipped with solar power will enjoy the benefits of reduced electricity costs while utilising the energy to power various appliances in their homes.
Each of these homes is equipped with Power Genius technology, enabling smart decisions to maximise the use of solar energy within the household, including storing excess solar energy in the hot water cylinders.
The innovation of this solution really steps up when combing the capabilities of Power Genius and Ecotricity’s peer-to-peer platform (P2P). The surplus solar power generated by the four homes with solar panels will be shared via TLC's network with the trial homes without solar power. This energy will be directed to heat their hot water cylinders, effectively utilising the cylinders as batteries to store excess solar energy.
By utilising stored energy from hot water heating, all participants will enjoy reduced electricity costs. While TLC would see smoother electricity demand on their network, and peak-rate consumption reduction.
The project is a significant step towards achieving renewable energy targets while enhancing the lives of families in the Tūrangi community.
2. Empowering Marae Communities: The Maniapoto Joint Solar Pilot
TLC, in collaboration with the Te Nehenehenui (formally Maniapoto Māori Trust Board) and funded by MBIE, has embarked on an inspiring joint initiative to deploy solar panels on two Marae in the King Country region of New Zealand. This visionary project not only allows the marae to harness renewable energy generated on their rooftops but also empowers them to gift the excess solar power to local whānau.
Māniaroa Marae - Source: TLC
Thanks to Ecotricity's innovative P2P trading platform, surplus solar energy seamlessly flows from each Marae to benefit five local whānau, creating a network of energy sharing within the community using TLC’s existing network.
The primary goal of this pilot is to support the aspirations of marae and foster whānau development while making significant strides towards decarbonisation. As Mike Fox, TLC's Chief Executive, highlighted, solar technology presents a unique opportunity to provide equitable energy solutions, especially in more remote areas where traditional energy distribution can pose challenges for the network.
Mike Fox, Tom Roa, Samuel Mikaere - Source: TLC
The success of this pilot demonstrates that solar technology combined with P2P trading platforms could usher in a new era of equitable energy outcomes for communities.
Recognising the significance of this initiative, the project has been selected as a finalist in the 2023 New Zealand Energy Excellence Awards in the 'Community Initiative of the Year' category. This nomination serves as a testament to TLC's commitment to empowering communities with clean and sustainable energy solutions.
As lines companies continue to explore innovative solar technology trials, the future of electricity distribution looks brighter than ever.
The inspiring projects undertaken by The Lines Company and their collaborators showcase the transformative potential of solar energy in empowering communities, reducing costs, and embracing sustainable practices. By harnessing the power of innovation, collaboration, and renewable energy, lines companies like TLC are leading the charge towards a cleaner, more inclusive future for all New Zealanders.