ENERGY EFFICIENCY & MICRO-GENERATION at home

  • 9 December 2011
  • Home Energy Centre

Harnessing New Zealand's renewable energy resources through small-scale generation.

New Zealand is blessed with abundant renewable energy resources compared to many other countries, and this has helped achieve a high percentage of renewable generated electricity in our electricity grid. Large scale renewable energy development, such as wind farms, geothermal, and hydro energy, already provides cost effective and ‘clean’ electricity.

Another way of harnessing the power of New Zealand’s renewable energy resources is through small scale generation, also known as ‘micro-generation’. This is renewable energy generation on a domestic or household scale.

The motivation for homes or businesses to generate their own electricity using photovoltaic (PV) modules, small wind turbines, or microhydro schemes can come from the satisfaction of gaining independence from conventional electricity supply arrangements, or the desire to contribute to greater environmental
goals. Improved security of supply and a favourable financial return can also be factors, especially for those whose home or workplace is located in isolated areas where generating their own electricity can be the only viable option. In many remote sites, off-grid power systems using renewable energy technologies are often more economical than relying on diesel generators, or financing the costs of connecting to the local electricity network. Even in well connected urban
environments, technologies such as solar hot water is a good way to save on energy bills and reduce overall energy consumption.

What is Micro Generation?
Micro-generation using refers to electricity generation technologies that are a suitable size to provide partial or full power for your home or small business.

Energy efficiency and micro-generation
If your aim is to do your bit for the environment, it is important to remember that energy efficiency should come first. It is usually easier and cheaper to save a unit of energy than it is to generate a unit of electricity. If you are designing a new house, you have the opportunity to build in energy savings for years to come.

Tips include:
  • Orient your house to make the most of the sun’s heat, including solar heated water, and passive solar design that minimises your heating and cooling requirements.
  • Design your roof so a PV array can be built in or mounted at a later date. A north-facing roof is best, although some variance from this can still be
  • suitable.
  • For an off-grid home, minimise use of electricity for cooking and water or space heating: other options such as gas, wood stoves, solar water heating, or a wetback will be more cost effective for these tasks.

Source: This short article was compiled by The Green Living Magazine from extracts of EECA’s report entitled Power from the people: a guide to micro-generation. (November 2010).




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