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Solar project set to power up Tūrangi homes

2 December 2022

Together with Tūwharetoa Health Charitable Trust (THCT) and Maru Energy Trust (Maru), The Lines Company (TLC) are installing solar panels and new hot water cylinders in houses at Tūrangi.

The pioneering project will see excess solar generated energy, heat hot water cylinders in recipient households. With hot water heating accounting for around 30% of household electricity costs, pilot households are set to benefit from significant cost savings while helping to support renewable energy targets.

However, THCT chief executive Willow Salvador believes the benefits of the whānau-based energy solution extend beyond cost savings and into health-related outcomes.

Tūwharetoa Health has been delighted to be able to provide tautoko to the nine whānau to take part in this programme of sustainable energy solutions that will benefit their whānau hauora.”

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) funded energy solution is aimed at improving the wellbeing of people in public and Māori housing and will enable whānau to gift surplus energy to other households included in the pilot.

TLC chief executive, Mike Fox, said the project will help homes in the area generate, and share the benefits of, solar energy.

“The solution is designed to share energy when solar gains are at their highest, with energy from the solar panels exported to recipient households to heat hot water cylinders.

“This is an automated process essentially turning hot water cylinders into battery storage.

“The solar solution’s optimisation tool, PowerGenius, combined with a peer-to-peer trading platform that allows energy sharing across households will reset how solar energy can benefit those living in public and Māori housing,” said Fox.

The pilot will see solar panels and new hot water cylinders, including two with hot water heat pump technology, installed at nine households in the Tūrangi rohe. With as many as 16 solar panels on each home, up to 5920W of energy will be produced by each solar installation – generating more than the typical 3000 watts needed to heat a hot water cylinder.

Three homes generating solar energy will be paired with three recipient homes to distribute the surplus power to the recipients’ hot water cylinders. A fourth home generating solar energy will be paired with two recipient homes who will have new energy efficient heat pump hot water cylinders installed as part of the project.

Solar generating homes are also able to benefit from the energy they generate, heating their own hot water and running appliances as electricity is generated from the sun’s rays.

Utilising stored energy in the form of hot water heating is set to help all participants reduce their electricity costs, smooth out electricity demand, reduce peak-rate consumption, make the most of the sun’s natural resource, improve health and wellbeing, share a sustainable low-cost clean energy solution, and enable customers to access the trading benefits of new technology.

Installation of panels and hot water cylinders to the nine participating homes due to be completed this November, with excess energy able to be exported to recipient homes through the peer-to-peer trading platform in December.

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