Friday, 20 June 2014

Energy: renewable generation up, solar in schools

Mill Creek Windfarm (green dots).
National has set an ambitious goal of 90% of electricity generation coming from renewables by 2025. The most recent New Zealand Energy Quarterly Survey shows that we're on track to hit this target - up to March this year, 79% of our electricity comes from renewable sources. This is largely thanks to the growth in geothermal generation and some wind. The NZEQ states:
Quarterly thermal generation continues to decline, down 26% from the same quarter last year. In the quarter, production from the Huntly plant rebounded, but remains well below the levels seen throughout 2012 and early 2013 when the country experienced a severe drought. Quarterly gas generation remains low, down 22% from the March 2013 quarter. Geothermal generation remained at high levels. In the quarter, geothermal generation was 16% of the country’s total electricity generation.
We're reaching the maximum of what we can tap in the geothermal space, which means other forms of generation will take precedence. Wind energy continues to expand. Mill Creek Windfarm recently opened in Wellington, adding another 59MW of generation. That leaves solar energy, where installations of home systems are booming due to falling prices. The challenge with solar energy though is that it's still more expensive than wind or geothermal per kW hour. Despite this, since 2008 Genesis Energy has run its Schoolgen program to bring solar energy to schools. One school in Upper Hutt, Plateau School, is part of this program and has regular updates on the Schoolgen website. Long-term solar will be part of the