Solar PV and batteries in New Zealand – consumer centric electricity

New Zealand households are now enthusiastically adopting new energy technologies – from energy efficient appliances, to household solar photovoltaics (PV) and demand management systems, and more recently, household batteries. This is changing the dynamics of the established electricity system, and while some utilities are taking advantage of the new opportunities, some are opposing them.

These new energy technologies provide a wide variety of benefits to customers, which go beyond simple financial returns, and attempts to prevent or limit their uptake are not only contrary to the original intentions of electrification, but are likely to fail. This report aims to provide a better understanding of what increased uptake of distributed energy (DE) opportunities means for New Zealand, and so enable the development of policies and business models that can maximise the potential benefits.

Total installed capacity of solar PV has rapidly increased in the last five years. Installation rates have increased nine-fold in the period 2012 to 2016. By August 2016 there were 43.25 MW of installed solar PV, with on average, about 1 MW of PV being added each month.

Currently, there are over 11,000 PV customers connected to the main grid, generating about 53,000 MWh per year. Most solar PV systems are installed by households (78% of capacity installed in 2016), followed by small and medium enterprises (9%), industrial users (7%) and commercial users (6%). Battery storage is at a relatively early stage of uptake in New Zealand, but progressive Lines and Distribution Businesses have been trialling them, and solar suppliers and installers have installed hundreds of grid-connected battery and PV systems to date, and expect interest to increase in 2017. Download the report