Alpine Energy trials solar panels

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 01/03/2013

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Alpine Energy has launched a $20,000 trial of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels on the roof of its Tekapo substation.

Chief executive Andrew Tombs said he hoped the trial would improve the lines company's understanding of how well the technology operated in places where climatic conditions were hugely variable.

"It's the first time we've attempted something of this kind. The Tekapo substation is in an environment that gets a lot of sun, and experiences the extremes of cold and hot temperatures. It makes it a really suitable spot for our trial," he said.

A PV system uses solar panels containing semi-conductor material that creates an electrical current when the sun shines on it. Like the panels used for solar hot water, photovoltaic panels are tilted to make the most of the sun.

"We're keeping a close eye on this trial. People will be able to see the weekly results on our website. The trial will last about a year, it's something we've been planning for some time," Mr Tombs said.

Should the energy output and efficiency from the solar panels be sufficient, Alpine Energy would look at other potential options for utilising PV solar generation in its other infrastructure.

"Interest in using PV has gradually increased over recent years, particularly as the cost of it has decreased, but it's still a relatively expensive technology," he said.

Mr Tombs said the trial would also assess the battery storage energy produced by PV and the potential to manage periods of peak load consumption.

He said Alpine Energy was in the middle of discussions over a number of applications to the network involving solar technology.

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- The Timaru Herald

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