The rooftops of the Palmerston North Convention Centre and city council building will soon be home to what it is believed will be the largest solar farm built in New Zealand.
Tauranga-based Powersmart NZ has won the tender to install the 400 photovoltaic solar panels as the main part of the $215,350 project.
Mayor Jono Naylor said the 100 kilowatt solar farm was an exciting development in moving toward the council's goal to make Palmerston North a sustainable city.
It has already converted the council's main office building to solar-heated hot water.
And in a separate project, the new Esplanade depot in Manawaroa St has been designed as a trial in moving toward energy self-sufficiency.
Energy officer John Debney said that site had used 4550kWh of power from the national grid since March, and generated 3270kWh to send back.
"This represents about 72 per cent of the electricity imported to site being sent back to the grid."
The central city solar farm is expected to meet about 10 per cent of the city council building's power needs.
Most of the electricity generated will be used on site.
The building used about 1,100,000kWh of electricity a year, which cost $173,000 last year.
Modelling by Powersmart indicated the solar farm could generate about 118,000kWh per year.
Providing some of its own power would create savings for the council through reduction in electricity charges at peak demand times.
The full value of the savings would be realised after one year of operation.
Construction will begin in mid February and is expected to take about three weeks to complete.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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