City council plans solar panels for its offices

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 18/12/2012

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Wellington is better known for wind than sun, but that is not stopping the city council from embracing solar power.

Consents have been lodged to install 20 solar panels on the roof of the Civic Administration Building to help power the building.

The project is budgeted to cost about $20,000, although it has not been given final approval yet.

The cost could also be subsidised by an $8000 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority grant, provided it helps to raise awareness and provide information about solar power.

Council spokesman Richard MacLean said that, if the project went ahead, the intention was to have a display in Civic Square showing how much electricity the panels were creating.

"The proposal is part of the council's overall response to climate change and sustainable energy use."

The council already has two solar-electric sites at public toilets on the south coast, but those are off-grid, whereas the administration building would be connected to the grid.

"The electricity produced would not make a significant dent in council's overall electricity bill, but rather it is a small pilot pro-ject to assess suitability for possible implementation elsewhere, including for domestic use," Mr MacLean said.

Over a year, the panels would produce up to 5700 kilowatt hours of electricity - depending on sunshine hours - and greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by up to 1.1 tonnes.

The system would consist of two sets of 10 panels, each set occupying a 16-square-metre site.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the project fitted with the city's "Smart Capital" vision.

"This is an opportunity to lead by example, trial cost-effectiveness for high-use buildings and help reduce the cost of photovoltaics [solar energy electricity generation]."

Despite being known for its wind, Wellington had a lot of sunshine hours to take advantage of, she said.

"Wellington has ideal renewable energy resources. Aside from our famous wind, Wellington enjoys 2000 hours of sunlight on average per year, well ahead of London on 1500, Edinburgh on 1350 and Vancouver on 1850 . . . it makes sense that we harness as much of that as we can."

Niwa data over a 30-year period shows the median number of sunshine hours a year for Wellington is 2110.3. Blenheim has the highest, at 2487.3. The Chatham Islands have the least, with 1437.1.

Contact Katie Chapman
Wellington reporter
Email: katie.chapman@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @katiechapman28

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- The Dominion Post

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