Installation rate hits inflection point in New Zealand

The internationalization of the global PV industry continues, with New Zealand that latest country to show strong installation growth. Figures from the Electricity Networks Association show that the number of solar arrays in the country has trebled over the last 18 months.

Commenting on the trend, the Electricity Networks Association CEO Graeme Peters said that solar looks likely to present a challenge for local utilities, which operate as regulated monopolies. Peters said that battery storage is likely to be a “game changer” for electricity supply in New Zealand.

Installations throughout New Zealand were not entirely uniform, with residents of the capital city of Auckland being the most likely to install PV.

New Zealand benefits from considerable renewable resources, with over 60% of the country’s electricity coming from hydropower, with geothermal (10%) and wind (3%) also making notable contributions.

The Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand (SEANZ) reports that minimizing electricity bills remains the primary driver for homes and business to install rooftop PV. Utilities pay feed-in rates of up to NZ$0.08/kWh for PV, however rising electricity prices have proven an incentive for increasing solar adoption.

SEANZ’s communications manager Kristin Gillies told pv magazine that New Zealand’s Electricity Authority is currently consulting with stakeholders on reforms to pricing structures, with utilities advocating for an increase in fixed charges to rate payers. Gilles estimates the country’s installed PV capacity to stand at around 22 MW.

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