With Vast Amounts of Geothermal, Wind and Hydropower, Why No Solar In New Zealand?
New Zealand has built an international brand on environmentalism and the great outdoors. So it is unsurprising that the country generates over three quarters of its electricity from renewable sources, second only to Iceland in the OECD. Presently, the vast majority of electricity comes from geothermal and hydroelectric generation, resources with which New Zealand is fortunate to be well endowed. And by 2025 there are plans to increase this share to 90 percent, mostly through expansion of wind energy.
However solar PV is yet to become widespread in New Zealand. Installed solar capacity is a measly 13 MW, representing just 0.1 percent of electricity generation compared to 7 percent in Germany and 1.5 percent in the UK. Disappointingly, only 600 domestic solar installations happened in 2014, and this is a large jump up from previous years. New Zealand has among the lowest share of solar penetration among the developed nations. That absence is despite several energy crises in the last few years caused by droughts as hydroelectric reservoirs ran close to empty, during which time solar would have presumably given a welcomed boost of electricity.
Much of the scarcity of solar can be attributed to the minimal support the industry has received from the national government: New Zealand has no legally mandated subsidies, feed-in tariffs or net metering. Several power companies currently buy electricity from domestic generators at wholesale prices but there is no security for sellers, meaning it is a risky investment.