We have recently completed a 25.16kW microgrid solar installation at Rehua Marae in Ōtautahi Christchurch. The Solar PV system which services 4 papakāinga housing units features 48x Jinko 370-Watt panels, and 2x Sungrow 25.6kWh high voltage batteries.
Te Whatu Manawa Māoritanga o Rehua officially opened in 1960. In 1957 all Canterbury Papatipu Rūnanga decided that the wharenui (meeting house) would represent all tribes. To this day, Rehua Marae is a crucial center for Māoritanga (Māori culture) and community engagement.
The papakāinga housing is a core part of this Kaupapa project. These units provide an affordable housing option with on-site services to whānau. Furthermore, it allows residents to be immersed in marae activities and Tikanga Māori.
The Rehua Marae microgrid solar installation was made possible with funding from the Government's Māori & Public Housing Renewable Energy Fund (https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/solar-power-initiative-win-m%C4%81ori-households-and-future-renewable-projects), which is designed to support projects that increase the uptake of renewable energy and target energy hardship in New Zealand.
Energy hardship is a significant issue in New Zealand, particularly for low-income households and those living in rural areas. By providing affordable, renewable energy to the papakāinga housing units, the Rehua Marae project is helping to reduce energy costs and improve energy security for whānau in need.
Solar power is particularly well-suited for addressing energy hardship, as it is a reliable and cost-effective energy source that can be installed on-site, reducing the need for costly grid infrastructure. In addition to providing clean energy, the Rehua Marae microgrid also serves as a model for future renewable energy projects, promoting a more resilient and sustainable energy future for all New Zealanders.
During the day, the microgrid operates by drawing power from solar panels, with any excess solar energy used to charge two banks of 25kWh batteries located in a small shipping container on-site. Once the batteries are fully charged, any leftover solar power is exported to the electricity grid, resulting in a credit on the marae's bill from the electricity provider. As the sun sets and solar energy production dwindles, the homes draw power from the batteries.
In the event that the batteries become depleted, or the homes require more power than they can provide, additional energy is sourced from the electricity supplier. If the grid is down the system can operate in ‘island mode’ where both the solar and batteries provide power for any essential services such as lighting, fridges, and microwaves.
Endless Energy was entrusted by Te Ranga Mangōpare Charitable Trust to engineer, procure, and install this unique project. We’re excited to be delivering an innovative microgrid solution that builds resiliency for communities in the face of rising power costs.