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Floating solar plant planned for New Zealand



Auckland-based electricity and water providers, Vector Group and Watercare have agreed to collaborate on an upcoming project to build New Zealand’s largest solar array. 

Floating PV plants have been developed in other countries, such as this one in Singapore
(Image via SERIS)

The proposed plant will float on top of the Rosedale wastewater treatment pond located near the Northern Motorway in the heart of Auckland’s North Shore. It will be formed by more than 2,700 solar panels on 3,000 floating pontoons.

The electricity generated will be used in part for pumping and aeration of natural bacteria, that helps break down the waste as part of the treatment process. In addition it will supplement electricity from the grid, generating enough power per year for 200 homes.

“It’s the first time floating solar will be seen in New Zealand and the first megawatt-scale solar project to be confirmed,” said Vector Group’s CEO, Simon Mackenze.

“It can generate enough power over a year to run the equivalent of 200 average New Zealand homes for a year.”

“Even larger systems are already common overseas and with reports out of Australia of costs as low as 4-5c per kWh, when that scale arrives here we’ll see solar’s real potential to set a new cap on the wholesale market which over the past few days has been around double that”.

“Vector PowerSmart’s capability to design and deliver this innovative system shows how new energy solutions are key to helping business reach their economic and environmental goals, and we’re proud to be working with Watercare to help it achieve both”.

As well as being the first floating solar project confirmed for deployment in New Zealand, the plant will be the largest solar project of any type in the country - at more than double the size of New Zealand’s current largest solar array.

Watercare claim that projects such as this one will help them achieve their targets of reducing energy use by 8GWh by 2022, and achieving energy self-sufficiency at the Mangere and Rosedale wastewater treatment plants by 2025.

The floating solar project is said to reduce 145 tonnes of CO2 each year - equivalent to the emissions of 66 cars. 

“The project is a fantastic example of how utilities can work together for the benefit of their communities,” said Raveen Jaduram, Watercare’s chief executive.

“As a large user of energy, it’s important that we look at ways of reducing our environmental footprint and becoming more self-sufficient.  Innovative solutions like this on top of wastewater ponds are a smart way to reduce operational costs”.

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Floating solar plant planned for New Zealand - Time to read 3 min
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