Solar growth could lower prices


More solar is starting to be set up in Mid Canterbury and further expected growth could bring down electricity prices for consumers.

EA Networks chief executive Roger Sutton said a number of big players were talking about putting big solar farms on to the network.

The scale of those farms was pretty big, he said.

One company already had a consent to do just over 50 mega watts of solar on land near Lauriston, which on a sunny day would mean no energy would need to be taken from the grid.

Speaking to district councillors recently Mr Sutton said the solar numbers being discussed were significant and EA Networks was keen to make it easier for companies to build and connect here.

“We believe it is a good thing that will lead to lower electricity prices for our customers.”

For the district to be entirely self sufficient with solar there needed to be around 300 mega watts generated during the day and then some energy taken from the grid at night.

Three hundred mega watts would take up about 300ha of land, an area a bit bigger than a typical Mid Canterbury farm, he said.

Mr Sutton said further down the line EA Networks was keen to bring solar farms together with some customers on the network.

He said dairy farms, for example, were really well matched with solar because they used more power in the summer for irrigation and less in winter, which matched with solar output.

“The logical thing is to bring the parties together to do some sort of deal,” he said.

Currently solar power supplies less than one per cent of New Zealand’s energy, but forecasts are that in 15 years time it will supply 15-20 percent.

-By Mick Jensen