11 Apr 2016

Can solar energy power a home all year round?

From Nine To Noon, 9:35 am on 11 April 2016
Orla Cumisky's solar powered home on Great Barrier Island

Orla Cumisky's solar powered home on Great Barrier Island. Photo: supplied

A group of residents from Great Barrier Island who live entirely off the grid, say yes it can, as long as you have enough photovoltaic panels on your roof positioned to take in maximum sunlight in all seasons.

Two weeks ago the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment endorsed a report which said the uptake of solar energy by households will increase carbon emissions from the electricity sector. It said this was because solar power is disproportionately generated during the summer months, while New Zealand's electricity needs are greatest in winter - so if more households use solar panels, this would replace renewable alternatives that would be more available in the winter months, resulting in a greater reliance on fossil fuel based electricity generation.

Orla Cumisky is the organiser of the island's Off the Grid event being held next month – where experts and locals offer advice to those wanting to live off the grid. She also powers her home solely with solar energy all year round.