The City of Sails, Auckland, is drenched in 2,000 hours of fantastic sunshine per year, yet New Zealand still relies on fossil fuels for 60% of its energy. So how can Aucklanders take advantage of the massive amounts of sunlight that shine down on us the majority of the year and embrace solar energy systems such as the commercial solar panel solutions we provide at Endless Energy?
The simple answer is to become energy-independent.
What is Energy Independence?
There are two definitions of energy independence, one at the national level and the other at the personal level.
Energy Independence at a National Level
For the national level definition, consider a country that is an exporter of energy, such as coal and natural gas and does not need to import any foreign energy products as it domestically produces its energy to meet its country's needs.
On a personal level, it is often simply called off-grid energy. This personal energy independence refers to individual households or other electrical users. When a residence is self-sufficient in supplying all of its energy requirements without depending on the electrical grid, this is known as personal energy independence.
Solar panels are the most popular way of achieving energy independence. Therefore, achieving personal energy independence with solar as a home or business owner can be incredibly liberating and carries many benefits.
Is Solar Energy Independence Worth It?
The Benefits Are:
Auckland Region Level
Energy independence lessens a nation's reliance on foreign energy sources, thereby lowering the danger of energy supply disruptions brought on by natural disasters or geopolitical warfare.
Having less of a need for imported energy offers protection from the unpredictability of international fossil fuel energy markets, shielding the New Zealand economy from price increases with the solar independence that stabilises energy prices.
Additionally, spending on domestic energy infrastructure promotes economic development and opens up job prospects for the nation. With New Zealand becoming more energy independent, it will provide more resistance against external shocks such as natural disasters and global crises.
And a nation with a variety of self-sufficient energy sources will be better at meeting energy needs and supporting critical services during emergencies.
Finally, embracing renewable energy sources results in a significant decrease in greenhouse gases. So, being able to eliminate fossil fuels will promote a cleaner and healthier environment in New Zealand.
On a Personal Level
The most obvious is reducing your reliance on external power sources, thereby avoiding rising energy bills and potential service interruptions brought on by extreme weather conditions and deteriorating grid infrastructure.
Initial high costs may be off-putting, but people can benefit from long-term savings because their energy expenditures will be lower.
The return on investment will be a higher personal benefit, as it will leave more money available for other requirements.
Reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lowering your carbon footprint by switching to a renewable energy source is often liberating and gives individuals a feel-good feeling knowing that they are doing a massive part in slowing down domestic emissions of greenhouse gases, which in 2018 was at 4% for energy emissions relating to water heating, cooling, and cooking for a home.
It gives people a sense of purpose and joy to know that their energy choices are in line with environmental responsibility and a more resilient future.
How To Gain Solar Independence
On a Nation Level
For New Zealand to gain energy independence nationally rather than importing fossil fuels from other countries, it is currently following a plan set out by the Ministry for the Environment to make energy more affordable and secure in the face of global shocks.
Reducing exposure to international oil markets by promoting the use of low-emission or electric cars and expanding fuel options for the future is one of the steps laid out by the Ministry.
Another one is the progressive use of New Zealand’s renewable energy in different industries, especially within the transport sector. The overarching vision is for New Zealanders to have more control over their energy use so that they can save money for the future.
On a Personal Level
Going completely off-grid and excluding yourself from grid power is the only way to achieve complete energy independence.
Off-grid living is expensive up front, but more New Zealanders are beginning to see its value, especially with the cost of living and housing prices skyrocketing across New Zealand and especially Auckland. Being able to save money somewhere takes the pressure off the wallet.
Simply put, an off-grid system lacks a grid connection. Therefore, you'll need to take the power into your own hands when you want to have a large family gathering or when you decide to go all out for Christmas, like the houses down Franklin Road in Ponsonby, Auckland.
Going to a smart and reliable electrician, such as Endless Energy in Auckland, is the best shot at liberating yourself from high energy bills, the need for fossil fuels, and national grid power.
Different Solar Setups
The most prevalent solar power system types in New Zealand are standard grid-connected systems. They don't provide the greatest level of energy independence, but they do have the lowest installation cost and the best return on investment.
Grid power is still used as the system won't supply electricity overnight. Additionally, they will have to shut down during a blackout or power loss, meaning they won't be able to supply power during intense weather events.
Depending on the size of the system installed, monthly power bills may be lower due to being less dependent on centralised power plants and less exposed to changes in the price of electricity.
A grid-connected solar power system is very flexible and can be changed later to provide greater energy independence; this will be accomplished by installing batteries.
Grid-Connected Solar with a Specialised Inverter
In the event of a blackout or power loss, a grid-connected solar system with a specialised inverter instead of a normal one like the one mentioned above is the best option. This is a recent product in the solar system market and includes:
Fronius Primo Gen24 Plus
Secure Power Supply (SPS) from SMA
Grid-Agnostic micro-inverters from Enphase
Grid Solar with Battery Storage
The inclusion of battery storage enables the storage and use of solar energy produced during the day. Some batteries can function as battery backups during a power outage or blackout, depending on the model that is selected.
If the battery is full, excess solar power can be transmitted to the grid in exchange for credits from energy suppliers. Since the system is still connected to the grid, any further power required can be drawn from it.
This system can benefit from significantly reduced or no electricity bills by installing batteries.
Off-grid living is expensive up front, but more New Zealanders are beginning to see its value.
An off-grid solar power system must be built to supply electricity through protracted periods of gloomy, chilly winter days. A small off-grid solar power system normally costs approximately $20K, but most houses require a considerably larger system that can cost between $50K and $80K. An off-grid system can be virtually enormous, contributing to its high cost.
The size of the system required will depend on:
Power requirements of the home's appliances and how frequently they are used
Whether there are other heat sources besides electricity and how much extra power is needed in case of prolonged bad weather or guests
The journey towards energy independence in Auckland is towards a cleaner, more resilient, and economically sound future. While Auckland enjoys abundant sunlight, the city and the nation still rely heavily on fossil fuels for energy.
Embracing solar energy systems, particularly commercial solar panel solutions, offers a path to harnessing the sun's potential and transitioning towards a sustainable energy landscape.
Energy independence, whether national or personal, brings multifaceted advantages. Reducing reliance on foreign energy sources through renewables like solar power bolsters energy security and shields against global shocks for a nation like New Zealand.
This shift promotes economic growth, job creation, and environmental preservation while ensuring a steady supply of critical services during emergencies.
At a personal level, adopting solar energy systems directly benefits individuals and households. The allure of reducing dependence on external power sources, curbing rising energy costs, and avoiding service interruptions due to weather or grid issues is compelling.
Though initial outlay might seem daunting, the long-term savings and decreased carbon footprint present a persuasive case for solar energy adoption.
Solar energy is a pivotal solution to achieving energy independence nationally and personally. In New Zealand's case, the Ministry for the Environment has laid out a roadmap to make energy more affordable and secure by reducing exposure to international oil markets and promoting renewable energy in various industries.
Different solar setups cater to various needs. The options are diverse, from standard grid-connected systems with flexibility for future expansion to grid-connected systems with specialised inverters for blackout resilience. Adding battery storage to the mix enhances energy utilisation, allowing excess solar power to be stored for later use.
And for those seeking the ultimate energy autonomy, off-grid living presents a comprehensive solution, albeit with higher upfront costs. The potential for energy independence shines brightly in the picturesque backdrop of Auckland's 2,000 hours of annual sunshine.
By following solar light and embracing solar energy solutions, Aucklanders can navigate towards a future with cleaner air, stable energy costs, and a more sustainable way of life. As the City of Sails becomes a city of solar pioneers, it paves the way for a more self-reliant, resilient, and environmentally conscious community. Talk to us now at Endless Energy and see how we can help you.