New Zealand’s Renewable Energy Resources

New Zealand’s energy production comes from both renewable and non-renewable sources. In 2016, about 85% of electricity generation came from renewable sources, marking the country’s highest production level in 35 years.

Renewable energy comes from sources that replenish naturally in a considerably short period of time. The country’s renewable energy supply particularly comes from geothermal, hydro (24%), biomass (17%), wind and solar power.

Aspiring for a future with a secure and resilient renewable energy supply, the NZ government has put into place research and development initiatives to economically grow its renewables supply. Electricity renewable percentage is trending up since the mid-2000s due to the continual market development, declining costs of renewable technologies and the downgrading of Maui natural gas reserves.

The country has significant advantages in electricity generation, given its vast renewable resources from windswept landscapes to volcanic features and generous sunlight hours. Currently, NZ has the third highest renewables percentage of total primary energy supply (TPES) in the OECD, next to Norway and Iceland.

Below are the types of renewable energy sources that make up the country’s supply:

Geothermal

New Zealand is located strategically between two tectonic plates, meaning it has vast potential for geothermal power generation. The Earth’s crust is thinner along faults, so the hot mantle is much closer to the surface. The heat generated and stored in the ground is what we call geothermal energy, which supplies 17 percent of the country’s electricity and 22 percent of our TPES.

Geothermal fluid, which is a mixture of high pressure water and steam, is piped from deep wells to a central generation power plant where it is turned into steam. The steam is what drives turbine generators to produce electricity. 

Since it’s not weather dependent, geothermal energy supply is consistent and reliable. However, careful monitoring and management of water and pressure levels in the power station are necessary to prevent land subsidence and depletion. This generation method does produce greenhouse gas emissions, but still at a relatively lower amount than the cleanest natural gas plants.

Hydro power

Hydro power generation is the backbone of New Zealand’s electricity system, contributing more than half of our electricity supply.

Hydroelectricity plants rely on gravity to drive water from nearby streams, rivers or dams through turbines, which drive power generators. The process is fast and gives off no greenhouse gases, however there are environmental repercussions to building dams.

The challenge with hydro schemes is New Zealand’s lack of water storage capacity and variable water supplies. Fortunately, the growing wind farms and solar power systems are easing these concerns.

Wind

Wind turbines harness wind power and convert it into electricity. With the country’s vast landscapes, wind-powered generation is a very promising form of electricity generation. It is one of the most environmentally friendly methods as well, given that wind turbines don’t produce greenhouse gas emissions during operation. That being said, wind energy only accounts to two percent of New Zealand’s total renewable energy supply.

Three quarters of Kiwis support wind farms, but there are objections to the sight of them and the noise they create. This has led to stricter building codes for farms as well as noise standards for turbines to ensure quieter operation.

Solar

We use either passive or active solar power systems to harness the sun’s energy. Passive systems use architecture and engineering to design homes to absorb solar radiation for heating spaces. Active systems use photovoltaic (PV) solar panels to generate electricity as well as solar water heating devices. Solar panels consist of light-sensitive cells that absorb sunlight and irradiance to produce electricity.

Solar electricity is silent, unobtrusive and sustainable. It is the underdog among all of New Zealand’s renewable resources. While it’s totally free and can be used all around the country, it currently amounts to only 2 percent of the total primary renewable supply.

The benefits are definitely there, but there are apprehensions to its uptake primarily due to the high capital cost of solar power systems. Another hindrance to its utilisation is that solar PV is branded as a ‘disruptive technology’ because it challenges the conventional model of electricity provision. However, newer technologies and price reductions in solar PV equipment are making solar power more efficient and affordable to own. And the ever-increasing prices of electricity are pushing more Kiwis to adopt solar as an alternative power generation method.

In fact, there are a number of island resorts that installed their own off-grid solar power plants to cut costs and gain energy independence. On the other hand, householders and property owners prefer grid-tied systems as they need backup power from the grid when the solar panels aren’t generating power at night.

Bioenergy

Bioenergy is fuel made from biomass feedstocks, which are renewable organic materials such as trees, residue wood, crops and by-products like straw, manure, sewage, etc. This type of energy contributed to 7 percent of our TPES in 2015.

Biomass can be burned to provide process heat, which can be used directly or used to generate electricity. Residue wood can be burned to produce heat for domestic use, although this practice is used primarily in the timber industry.

Alternatively, biomass can be turned into liquid biofuels for use in transport. The most common types of biofuels are bioethanol (a type of alcohol fuel processed from waste and organic by-products) and biodiesel (made from animal fats and vegetable oils). Biofuels help make our vehicles cleaner and gentler on the environment.

The current issues with bioenergy are the costs of gathering and transporting biomass feedstocks. Nevertheless, recent innovations are making it easier and cheaper to produce biofuels on a mass scale.

 

Micro Hydro Green Engergy

Green energy, is fast becoming the must have, especially in New Zealand where we love our clean green image.  Micro Hydro, renewable energy is one way New Zealanders are using to get that effect.  Micro Hydro as the name suggests uses water to produce power.  This is ideal for people who live near a water source. 

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It is also used in third world countries as a way to get energy.  It is used normally in conjunction with a normal energy company but the company generally “subsidises” the output from the micro hydro.  Maintenance is minimal and easily done.  There are many options to go along with micro hydro, you can store the excess energy, you can invert the energy or even in some cases sell the energy back to the company grid.

How does a micro hydro generally work? First water is diverted from the source along a channel and dropped into a cross flow turbine, the rotating mechanical power is converted into electricity.  Power is then fed into the electrical grid and the water directed back to the source.  Micro hydro is an electricity generator which uses a turbine and generator to convert waters kinetic energy to electricity.  Water needs to flow from a specific height with enough quantity to drive a turbine.  This turbine produces kinetic energy. Which produces power.

Many people are starting to want to live “off the grid” or have their power bills reduced and Micro-Hydro is a very popular choice since New Zealand is an island and water sources common.  There are generally three sizes of micro-hydro, up to 5kW, between 5kW and 20kW and 20kW and 10MW.  For a domestic one expect to pay between $10,000 to $15,000.  There is some maintenance involved in keeping the system running, the water way needs to be free of leaf litter and other debris and the equipment also needs maintenance.  You need to check if you will need a consent to build one, this is especially if you need to build a dam or the like.

So as we have seen New Zealand is an ideal country for the option of a micro-hydro system so why not check out if it is possible for you.

Have You Considered A Micro Hydro System?

Micro_hydro_power_systemIf you are looking for ways to save on power, a commonly overlooked type of power generation should be on your list of considerations. Micro hydro.

 

Micro hydro systems are not as common as PV solar but can be excellent power generation systems, especially when coupled with a PV solar installation. The benefit of the micro hydro system is that it uses the force of flowing water to produce power. Flowing water is in abundance in winter, just when sunlight is at it’s least, making a micro hydro system a perfect compliment to a PV installation to ensure that you have power all year round.

 

Smaller micro hydro systems don’t generally require water storage such as a dam or weir. This makes them good for private properties such as small farms and rural houses. This also means that they have much less impact on the environment than large scale hydro systems.

 

If you are interested in a micro hydro system, visit our micro hydro page for more information.

 

How Does Micro Hydro Make Power For Your Home?

One system used to make power in solar systems is micro hydro. What is micro hydro exactly? Micro Hyrdro is a type of hydro electric power that uses a natural flow of water to produce electricity. It is an excellent source of power especially in the rainy seasons.

Microhydro_System

 

So how does it work? Micro Hydro produces power by using the natural flow of water. A system is built to direct the flow of water to a turbine. The water flows through the turbine, which turns the flow of the water into mechanical energy. The water then flowers back to it's natural course. This system is typically useful in an isolated area and can power a single home or a small town. It is also the perfect complement to a solar panel system as the water flow is highest in the months where the sun is out the least.


If this sounds like a system which could benefit your home and work well with your solar system, get in touch with us today. We can help to design a micro hydro system for your home so that you can reap the benefits of not only the sun but the flow of water as well!

Micro Hydro And How It Works With Your Solar System.

Firstly, what is micro hydro? Micro hydro is a power generation system which ustilizes flowing water to produce electricity. These types of systems can typically produce up to 100kW of electricity by using the natural flow of water. These systems need to be designed and built site-specific.

How does it work with your solar power system? The system utilizes a turbine which is turned by the flowing water to create electricity, a similar theory to the wind turbine. These systems are generally built to work in conjunction with a solar panel system. They can work on either grid connected or off the grid systems. The main benefit of these systems is the theory that they will produce the most electricity when the water level is highest which is usually the time when solar energy is least available, therefore providing consistent power all year round. These systems will produce enough power to run a home or a small business.

If you are considering a micro hydro system to benefit your solar electric system, get in contact with us. We can design and build a micro hyrdro system which will work for you and provide the power you are need.

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