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For Solar

Written By: - Date published: 12:05 pm, June 25th, 2013 - 48 comments
Categories: energy - Tags:

There’s an issue for solar power about to hit: Standards NZ’s new proposed standard requires the use of a particular, untested, inverter which is not expected to even exist until July 2014.  The current 2005 standard on solar power production allows electricity lines companies to enforce their own set of standards onto independent solar power installers.

Solar power is currently producing 0.1% of NZ’s power, which seems crazy given the amount of sun we see.  There are a lot more solar panels in gloomy parts of the UK than you see here.  For the benefits of a distributed grid and improving our renewable energy supply it seems sensible to be encouraging everyone to install a solar panel or 2 on their houses.

So there’s an avaaz petition against the latest craziness, and they’re also proposing some other sensible political action:

–introduce a clear, safe, nationwide standard for the installation of solar power systems that is specific to New Zealand and doesn’t let power distributors make up the rules as they go along;

eliminate application fees for solar installations and reduce soft costs as much as possible

–introduce a national financing strategy for enabling private citizens and businesses to install solar power, and fair pricing and billing for solar power generators to encourage people to install solar panels and earn money on excess power they produce (a net-metering law).

Solar is subsidised in many countries, but this isn’t even asking for that, just a level playing field.

Seems like a sensible policy for any political party…


48 comments on “For Solar”

  1. Rosetinted 1

    Just calling attention to the need for changes and improvements and innovations, as in this thread to be done promptly to limit climate change, there is an email come to me today with heading “30 months to save the world”.

    Scientist Julienne Stroeve has studied Arctic ice for decades. Every summer she travels north to measure how much ice has melted. She knows that climate change is melting the ice fast, but on her last trip, she couldn’t believe what she saw. Vast areas of Arctic ice have disappeared, beyond our worst expectations.

    • grumpy 1.1

      Perhaps she is looking in the wrong direction – try Antarctica…….

    • Bill 1.2

      That 30 months is in relatuion to the Paris Summit, yes? But…we (Annex 1 countries) only have until the end of 2015 (30 months) to bring our carbon emissions from energy use down by 40%. And if we do that and continue down to zero emissions from fuel use by 2030, then ‘the gods’ flip a coin on global warming; ie we deliver ourselves a 50/50 chance of ducking below 2 degrees C mean surface temperature rise.

      I mean, it’s not even fucking science anymore. Science has provided the probabilities. But just like in the flipping of a coin, science can’t say whether the call is heads or tails. That’s how acute the peril is. And the politicians and policy makers wank on…

      • Rosetinted 1.2.1

        Climate change reaction? – most politicians – Not my portfolio. How does my hair look. I want a new suit, one of those lightweight fine wool ones handcrafted in Italy. Do I look as if I’m losing weight? Got a smile and a wave from the boss this morning. I’ve got three meetings before 2pm Don’t know when I can fit lunch in.

        There’s no time for these off the agenda matters mate.

      • Colonial Viper 1.2.2

        That 30 months is in relatuion to the Paris Summit, yes? But…we (Annex 1 countries) only have until the end of 2015 (30 months) to bring our carbon emissions from energy use down by 40%. And if we do that and continue down to zero emissions from fuel use by 2030

        That’s a retooling of our economy and our day to day lives which is on such a huge scale now that I would say that even with 100% agreement amongst all MPs that it would be impossible, short of agreeing that we collectively allow the economy to be destroyed and for people to go back to walking, bicycling and horses.

        • Bill

          It’s not so much a retooling of the economy. Energy supply systems aren’t a part of the equation….yet. But true, our day to day lives need to change dramatically – but is that a bad thing? Fuck the ‘9 to 5’ say I. Live a life! As for transport, sure – public transport and bikes and what have you. But remember the days of the ‘9 to 5’ when we had to get up and jump in a car to do pointless tasks all day? Remember them? Well, since we aren’t doing that any more, our transport needs have (a-hem) crashed. And now we have real communities again, where before we had atomised individuals scurrying for a slice….

          Miss the Happy Meal toys though. Really, I do. Life just isn’t the same without a plethora of worthless shit.

          • Colonial Viper

            i know those changes are coming Bill. Problem is, on a societal basis, we aren’t going to let them happen until we are absolutely forced to, with both Mother Nature and Gaia holding guns in our mouths, with no options left.

            • Bill

              I doubt we’ll have specific changes forced on us if we don’t act in a truly revolutionary way right now. Rather, there will be disintegration and a fucked up mess is what there will be.

              • Colonial Viper

                Yeah, there is that small detail to be concerned about too.

                I think Nicole Foss is correct: the change we need is NOT going to come from Parliamentarians in Wellington.

                • muzza

                  The change may well be forced, but not by natural entities – The force will come through man made bodies, such as the corrupt UN, via the corrupted IPCC.

                  If the situation was really so dire, then

                  A: Why is little to nothing being done about it, re burning oil, mining et al

                  B: Surely TPTB, would be concerned enough, about their own well being, to take it on.

                  So perhaps its this:

                  1: Its not that dire….yet

                  2: TPTB do not actually care about the masses, and along with the financial systems, a certainty to collapse, such a collapse will be used to take control of global environments etc. So is there a plan in the pipeline, perhaps its already in play!

                  I expect we are not going to like the outomes, regardless!

  2. tc 2

    A level playing field…LOL Ben the game is rigged in favour of power companies who make it very difficult to have a 2 way solar array setup.

    To have that you need at least start with getting the same rate per k/wH from solar back into grid as the consumption is billed at and not get these BS ‘daily export charges’ on the invoice which is cynical ticket clipping as the meters are smart meters and read remotely.

    Not only do they make the rules up on a company by company basis they don’t even get the story straight in dealing with customers so the BS is obvious.

    • grumpy 2.1

      ….but why should the power companies buy back from you at retail? They need to supply you when you cannot generate sufficient yourself.
      The capacity still needs to be provided and their network sized accordingly.

      • tc 2.1.1

        You’ve fallen for the con grumpy, exporting to the network has negligible impact on it. Ask some transmission engineers. This is a nett effect, these scenarios pull from the network after the sun has gone so demand occurs daily shooting that argument down.

        • insider

          If there is minimal impact there is likely minimal benefit, yet you want to be paid top dollar and wear none of the wider costs and obligations around maintaining and managing the network that allows you to buy and sell power. Sounds more like you feel an entitlement to a subsidy.

  3. Rich 4

    Without a link it’s hard to tell if the proposed standard is reasonable or not. There are a lot of safety and reliability issues about exporting power into the grid.

  4. MrSmith 5

    Had dealing with this lot (NZ Standards) over the years and in my opinion they are a self serving organization run by big corporations now, you have to pay for a NZ standard you see, so getting over the line can be costly unless you have unlimited funds or clout, a lot of the materials used on the houses that now make up the leaky homes debacle were nothing but rubbish with NZ Standards, NZ Standards just walked away from this whole mess or should that read crawled away quietly, calming the materials weren’t installed correctly.

    As I understand it they NZ Standards used to be a government run and financed department, but were deregulated along with the building industry in the 90’s and then told to stand on there own feet, by guess who.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Another thing the recent Labour Government overlooked.

    • Grumpy 5.2

      True….but in some cases a new Standard can be sponsored by a Govt. department such as the Energy Safety Service.
      Normally with electrical standards we tend to adopt International (IEC) standards, it is very seldom NZ develops a standard in isolation.

  5. Green Viper 6

    There is another way to deal with this bullshit and that is to go off grid completely. That way you avoid standing charges and a buy back policy what will undoubtedly be a rigged in favour of the power companies as more become privatised and look to their bottom lines..

    • Grumpy 6.1

      Exactly, I have some experience in this and it is certainly the easiest way to go.

  6. Colonial Viper 7

    Impressed with solar panel price drops over the last 10 years? Don’t be.


    Tens of billions in subsidies were plowed into the industry. Technological advances came along. And the price per watt crashed exponentially, from $76 in 1977 to about $7 in 1989. Then it leveled off. By 2000 it began to drop again, hit $4 in 2005, $2 in 2010, and a forecast $0.74 per watt in 2013 (graph).

    But it wreaked havoc. Business models collapsed. Funding dried up. PV companies bled red ink. In the US, a slew of them, including Solyndra, went bankrupt. Others shut down or changed course. Tens of billions in taxpayer subsidies and investor capital spiraled down the drain.


    LOS ANGELES — The solar panels covering a vast warehouse roof in the sun-soaked Inland Empire region east of Los Angeles were only two years into their expected 25-year life span when they began to fail.

    Coatings that protect the panels disintegrated while other defects caused two fires that took the system offline for two years, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.

    It was not an isolated incident. Worldwide, testing labs, developers, financiers and insurers are reporting similar problems and say the $77 billion solar industry is facing a quality crisis just as solar panels are on the verge of widespread adoption.

    • Grumpy 7.1

      Good links. Photovoltaics are horribly over-rated, maybe in 20 years…….

      • RJLC 7.1.1

        20 years? Sounds more like the time needed to break even on your MRP shares, Grump..

      • dw 7.1.2

        Bullshit. I have a system, off grid, rated for 3.5KWh/day that routinely produces around 9KWh/day and performs flawlessly.

        • bad12

          Interesting, can you tell us how many panels you have and what size they are, and is your system also connected to the grid,by what,

          And the cost of your system…

        • Colonial Viper

          Nice. Make and model? Any tips?

          • dw

            It’s fully off the grid. Here are the specs:

            Eight BP Solar panels (BP4175; 175W each), one FM60 Maximum Power Point Tracking regulator, 1 FX2348 Outback Power inverter, and 8 L16 Trojan 6V 420A/hr batteries (should have speced these a bit higher I think – when they die I’ll double the capacity as I have kids!).

            How water is provided through 32 evacuated glass tube solar collectors pumped to a 1000L tank with integrated firebox for firewood backup, provides domestic hot water and underfloor too. These tubes really perform – 40degree water when it’s 90 degrees in summer.

        • grumpy

          Looks like an OK little system, hate to think of the cost or pay-back but that is not the reason people go down this track.
          Seems a very low use system electrically, your 3.5kWh/day would cost less than $1 a day from the grid.
          The connection to wetback is a good idea and can work very well depending on the control system. With heatpump hot water systems that also produce water at 40C, it is usual that they have an auxilliary element fitted to raise the temp. to 70C to eliminate legionaires etc.
          Your point about battery capacity is well made but if they do the job why change now – batteries are expensive.

          A mate of mine – just for fun has 7.5kW of PV panels on his garage roof which he intends to sell back to the utility. Still connected to the grid though……

          • dw

            It’s a sweet system, and the payoff equation was $28K for the solar power system, $12k for solar hot water tubes, and around $17k for the tank/boiler – so $57k in total, while a connection to the road to get mains power to the house would have cost around $65k – easy decision to make when you don’t have power bills.

            I don’t always use 3.5 kWh/day, so it’s just as well the system overproduces, but generally I have low consumption while running two TV’s, two computers, two iPads, a fridge, MiFi modem, and water pump and sensors. Once you don’t heat water with electricity and use a gas oven your power consumption drops a lot.

            I’m keeping the batteries until they fail, and that’s when I’ll upgrade.

            • Grumpy

              Doing a similar system for a mate whose house is 900m from the supply. He will be completely off grid. Proved cheaper than running 11kv up to the building site.
              Will have a decent diesel generator as backup though
              Nothing wrong with the good old Pelton wheel if any water handy.
              I agree it’ a good system in your situation on an opportunity cost basis.

    • RJLC 7.2

      Are you sure you aren’t a neolib at heart, CV?
      You seem to offer their arguments often enough.

      • Colonial Viper 7.2.1

        well 🙂

        more to the point though, which part of warning that solar panel quality has been compromised by massive price pressure and market intervention is neoliberal?

  7. xtasy 8

    National cannot give a shit, the laissez faire jerks point to free choice and the free market, and criticise the Europeans for subsidising (as always), and while solar panels are dirt cheap made in China, there is a trade war between EU and China, and the US and China re that.

    So what is tiny NZ supposed to do, are Kiwis ever able to do anything constructive, apart from number eight wiring, leaving lambs and calves die in snow and ice in supposedly “unexpected freak winter weather”?

    Well, something should have happened years ago, under the last Labour government, but they could not bother then, having other priorities.

    I see NO future for this screwed up country, sorry!

    Where this country can lead is to introduce and apply “solar thermal”, not solar panels, there is a huge difference, for those that bother to know.

    Also go geothermal a bit more, keep the hydro, and invite scientists to work out better alternatives yet. Biological science will have much in story, with organic energy generation, from food waste, agri waste, seafood waste and endless more, it just needs more research, and do not write off solar totally, thanks, much to do.

  8. Rich the other 9

    Going nowhere.
    Solar development has collapsed in Germany and the future looks bleak elsewhere , billions and billions lost.

  9. bad12 10

    My view is this, household meters should be made compatible with feeding solar power into the national grid and households that do so should simply have the amount of solar power generated and fed into the grid discounted at the meter on a 1 for 1 basis,

    Allowing for such will encourage more people to install solar systems at a lower cost without having had to store the electricity in expensive battery arrays,

    Unfortunately as the Neo-libs sell off more and more of our electricity assets being able to accomplish this becomes even less possible,

    There is in fact no reason under the sun for New Zealand to be burning coal and gas to create electricity when 90% of the countries roof space sits in good solar producing areas for most of the year,

    What we do need is a new industry that produces a standard kit for installation on our roofs with a focus on New Zealand manufacture and turning the unproductive roofs of New Zealand households into productive solar collectors would negate any future need to build large scale generation capacity of any sort,

    The niceties vis a vis what privately owned power supply companies charge consumers and what such companies are willing to pay for solar generation from their consumers could simply be sorted with a piece of legislation…

  10. Rich 11

    If Tiwai Pt closes, then we’ll be able to scrap Huntly coal and be a lot closer to a 100% renewable grid.

    Not sure what people will do with solar panels then – build a home aluminium smelter?

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