NIWA has just installed a 10 kW array of photovoltaic solar panels at its regional office in Nelson. The panels will supply electricity to NIWA, and will also provide useful information on operating this technology in a commercial setting.
The photovoltaic installation at NIWA Nelson follows experience with a 5.4 kW array at our Greta Point campus in Wellington. The Greta Point installation has been running for over two years, and has so far generated 15.75 MWh, saving about eight tonnes of CO2 emissions.
The panels installed on the NIWA Nelson office are expected to generate 16 MWh per year, around 25% of the office's power consumption. The supply and installation of the panels cost $58,500 + GST, and come with a 25-year manufacturer's warranty.
Solar photovoltaic technology has been used by NIWA in remote locations for many years to power monitoring instruments such as lake monitoring (see photo left of photovoltaic-powered instruments at Lake Benmore), automatic weather stations, and river-flow monitors.
As prices for solar modules and power-conditioning electronics continue to fall, so the technology is becoming increasingly attractive for many New Zealand businesses and homeowners.