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Wednesday, 15 September 2021 08:55

Farms to generate solar power

Written by  Staff Reporters
Solagri plans to construct solar arrays and batteries on Kiwi dairy farms. Solagri plans to construct solar arrays and batteries on Kiwi dairy farms.

A start-up solar energy business says recent developments in the energy sector make it a sound investment.

Solagri managing director Peter Saundes says record wholesale energy prices, recent power outages in the North Island and the United Nations declaring "code red for humanity" on climate change make it timely to invest in electricity generation and storage.

Saunders says Solagri had a successful first week on PledgeMe as it raises funds to contruct solar arrays and batteries on Kiwi dairy farms.

"Dairy prices have come off a little, but they are still 24% higher than at the same time last year.

"Building big solar arrays beside dairy sheds to help protect them from future electricity shortages makes sense.

"It also makes sense to deploy large batteries into those farms to support the dairy operation in the summer months and to support the grid in the winter months by shifting energy from the daytime to the overnight demand peaks.

"It's very hard to think of a better time to bring a new electricity generation and storage system to the New Zealand market," says Saunders.

"We have overall steadily increasing demand, pressure to move vehicles from oil to EV, pressure to move our large industrial heat users like milk dryers off coal, pressure to reduce our use of old coal generators, low lake levels and no new hydro capacity on the drawing board."

Saunders points out that recently New Zealand set a new record wholesale energy price.

"The price Kiwis pay for their electricity includes the wholesale energy price in their region and the retailers mark-up," he says.

On August 16, cold temperatures collided with a few other variables like low wind to produce a spot price that exceeded $11,000/megawatt/hour (MWh).

"It was only for one hour, but to put that in context, the wholesale price of electricity is normally around $115 per MWh at present. The wholesale energy price in New Zealand been regularly spiking over $600 MWh recently.

"If that price had been passed through to consumers, it would have cost you around $4.35 to boil a kettle."

He says because of energy supply and demand issues, Transpower stopped supply to customers for a few hours.

Saunders says while the events that coincided to cause this are rare, several industry experts came out to warn Kiwis that these supply outages are more likely into the future.

"Basically, our demand continues to grow and we have been too slow to build significant new generation capacity to keep up with this growth."

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