Focus on Southland sun
The best source of heating houses in Southland in the future could be the sun.
Venture Southland strategic enterprises project manager Steve Canny, speaking at the Southland Energy Conference this morning, talked about the region's potential for solar power.
Southland could produce 1600kw per square metre of panels a year, Mr Canny said.
This compared well to Germany, which made 1000kw per square metre a year. In Germany, solar power could produce the equivalent of nine nuclear power stations on a sunny day, he said.
The conference is also looking at energy efficiency in the dairy sector.
A retrofit of a dairy property could save 35 per cent of power and 60 per cent of water use, Mr Canny said.
Beacon Pathway consultancy chairman Nick Collins, also speaking at the conference, said sustainable homes were now part of the mainstream.
New Zealand could not ignore the poor quality of housing nationally, he said
"The quality of our housing stock reflects and drives our quality of life - it's where New Zealanders have our biggest investment.''
The sun was the best source of heating, but New Zealanders did not take full advantage of it.
The country needed to get housing design right from the start of new developments, he said.
Challenges in Southland included the lack of new building and the age of existing housing stock.
"The bulk of your houses were built in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. That's where your focus needs to be.''
Solar heating was a superb opportunity - Invercargill had more sunshine than anywhere in Germany and almost as much as the North Island, he said.
The conference will also take a look at energy opportunities on dairy farms, including increasing the use of biodigestors to produce electricity from effluent gas and improving the efficiency of dairy sheds.
Speakers include Nigel Isaacs, from the Victoria University School of Architecture and the Building Research Association of New Zealand.
His presentation today will cover the history of building technology in New Zealand, what the current situation is and what the country should be doing for the future.
There will be a talk on making your own electricity to sell to the grid, through solar panels or small-scale wind turbines, featuring representatives of PowerNet, Meridian and Tansley Electrical.
The conference will also discuss how to encourage more sustainable buildings in Southland, what industry, business and local government can do to make it easier to build energy-efficiently.
There are a a series of public talks from 7pm in the evening at SIT's Hansen Hall, covering basics of energy efficiency, the costs of ''building green'', geothermal heat pumps and how to get funding for a community renewable energy project.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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