Transpower, New Zealand’s state-owned transmission grid operator, says falling solar and storage costs have sparked interest in PV for a market already well served by wind and hydro power.
The nation already uses renewable energy for almost 90% of its electricity demand, according to live transmission data on Transpower’s website, but PV is not even listed among the clean energy technologies in operation.
According to the grid operator, there are bigger investment opportunities ahead as New Zealand’s electricity demand is set to rise, due to increasing electrification industrial processes and mobility, in line with the country’s Paris Agreement obligations. In its new Te Mauri Hiko Energy Futures report, the grid operator forecasts electricity generation will almost double between now and 2050.
New Zealand has installed 85 MW of solar to date, nearly half of which has been added in the last two years in more densely populated areas, such as Auckland and Canterbury.
The report stresses the potential for residential solar – being adopted at a rapid rate in neighboring Australia – is huge. With 1.8 million residential households and 300,000 businesses, the authors claim 11 GW of new PV could be installed. That number would only grow over time, as there is a need for new homes in New Zealand, and solar equipment is making efficiency advances. By 2050, the report’s authors say, the potential for rooftop PV could be around 27 GW.