Micro generation is simply small scale generation of electricity. This would usually be for a specific use such as to meet the needs of a farm, home or business.
For example, MainPower recently installed a micro-hydro generator to power a Department of Conservation hut in the Hurunui high country using a nearby stream. For more on this story click here.
Another example, MainPower has installed photovoltaic (solar power) panels on its building in Rangiora. This provides enough electricity to power all its computers. For more on this story click here.
There are a range of benefits from micro-generation. Firstly, it can provide electricity in remote regions where there are no other power sources.
Also, micro-generation can provide a degree of, or even total, self-sufficiency. This can be appealing for people concerned about power prices or the threat of power shortages.
Others believe that if there is enough micro-generation uptake, it will help reduce the need for more large scale power stations and transmission lines.
The cost of installing and maintaining a micro-generation scheme will vary depending on the type of scheme installed and the energy output required. However, consent requirements can be time consuming and expensive.
If you have a network connection nearby, it is unlikely that micro-generation is cost effective at today's power price. But some people are installing systems now because they believe the power price will go up and/or for environmental reasons.
In remote locations generating your own power is often more cost-effective than installing a new network connection.
It requires thought and planning and some of the technology is developing. However, micro generation using renewable resources is a reality in New Zealand and is likely to be increasingly used.
The key factor is having a consistent source of energy. Does your stream have consistent water flow? Does the wind blow consistently? Does the sun rise late or do you lose it early? Do you have a north-facing roof? There are many questions that need to be asked and are site specific. An energy professional can help you with this early planning.
MainPower is committed to supporting micro generation developments in our region. We have a number of pilot projects underway, including micro hydro, micro wind and solar projects. We will publish the results of these projects as they are completed.
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