New Zealand’s SolarZero helps overcome energy crisis

In response to a potential energy grid emergency announced by Transpower and the Minister for Energy, Simeon Brown, New Zealand’s SolarZero has provided 30 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the national grid using its Virtual Power Plant technology. This supply meets the greater part of a 20MW projected shortage flagged up by Transpower.

The Ministry had anticipated an electricity crisis and encouraged Kiwi citizens to reduce power use. Consequently, SolarZero activated its Virtual Power Plant network, delivering enough energy to power an equivalent of 100,000 hot water systems. Amongst this total, 5MW was earmarked for the South Island, matching precisely the surplus available today.

Previously, SolarZero’s Virtual Power Plant had been successfully trialled over winter by SolarZero itself, alongside Ara Ake and Transpower. Their tests confirmed that the technology could function as a grid-scale battery and respond quicker than conventional generation methodologies such as coal and gas.

Chief Executive of SolarZero, Matt Ward said: “When key players are saying that coal and gas are our only options to cope with the impending grid emergencies as we go into winter, our response this morning is proof that there’s another solution.”

Ward added that their network could be potentially increased ten-fold over the subsequent few years and could help manage New Zealand’s peak demand. This would be possible if market mechanisms and regulations were adjusted to reflect this. “Transpower and industry leaders have been advocating for a market to be created for peak demand events like today for many years, yet New Zealand still doesn’t have one,” Ward elaborated.

SolarZero’s response to this morning’s energy shortage demonstrated that its customers could retain their household comforts and heaters, lower their energy bills, support their community with its solar and battery systems, and help maintain national power.

Ward stated, “We stepped up today to do our part in averting a crisis and remind the government what solar and battery technology is capable of. We are sending a positive message to the government: we don’t need a dollar of subsidy or special dispensation.”

He went on to underline how current technology can address contemporary energy issues, provided market mechanisms are modernised to reflect existing tools. “The future is already here. We don’t have to keep relying on old technology, like coal and gas, forever,” concluded Ward.

Established in 2008 by Andy Booth, SolarZero has evolved to become one of New Zealands leading solar energy business with offices in Christchurch, Nelson and Auckland. 

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