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1 August 2012

Church draws power from above

Image credit: Gisborne Herald

Ariticle one of our systems in The Gisborne Herald. By Anna Ferrick

As more and more New Zealanders consider alternative power supplies, a Gisborne church will be praying for sunshine.

Saint Mary Star of the Sea has invested in five solar panels on the roof of the parish building in Campion Road.

Father Yvan Sergy says the panels will be installed in the second week of August, after months of fundraising.

"They will produce electricity that will be used internally and the excess will be bought by the electricity retailer.

"They will then offset the cost against our bill. We cannot produce enough for the whole bill but it will certainly make a difference."

Father Yvan says the fact that solar power is a renewable source of energy was a key factor when deciding to go ahead with the project.

"The church has a responsibility to look after the Earth. We are trying to set an example and, hopefully, it will encourage individuals to do the same."

Gisborne has one of the country's largest number of sunshine hours a year — around 2200 – making the region a likely area for solar radiation systems, generating either electricity or hot water to soften the cost of power.

However, a Government report released last week claims solar water-heating systems are not saving electricity when it's needed the most.

"While solar water heaters save electricity, they are least effective when savings are needed most — on the cold dark days in winter when people have their heaters and lights running," said the report by Dr Jan Wright, the parliamentary commissioner for the environment.

The report says flattening demand in peak times is important if the country is to avoid building new power plants.

"Unfortunately, solar water heaters — even in large numbers — don't help much with this."

The report has been hotly contested by the Green Party, which says it has done solar water heating a disservice.

Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes says solar hot water heating does contribute to reducing electricity peaks in winter.

"Solar water heating is not the sole solution to reducing fossil fuel use and dealing with winter power spikes, but it is part of the answer.

"If we want to get serious about dealing with winter peak power, the Government should restore the grants it cut for solar water heating in the 2012 budget and extend grants to cover other efficient water heating devices."

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority website says 3400 new solar water heating units are installed every year and the number is growing at 30 to 40 percent a year.

 

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