Seventeen remote Department of Conservation island sites will be fitted with solar hot water systems this year in a move that will cut DOC’s island hot water energy bill by about 80 percent.
The seventeen island sites are among 26 DOC facilities chosen for an energy-saving make over this year. The programme will see diesel generator powered hot water at mostly staff facilities replaced by solar powered systems.
The single biggest project is on Great Barrier Island where up to six solar hot water systems are to be installed.
DOC Sustainability Manager Kathryn Maxwell says the solar make-over is part of DOC’s on-going programme to cut its energy costs and find more efficient, environmentally friendly solutions to the department’s energy needs.
“Using diesel generators for hot water is lose-lose in terms of dollar and environmental costs. We anticipate that we will save around 27,000 litres of diesel a year on the islands and there will also be big savings in transport costs as well.“
“Going solar is a cheaper, cleaner and much quieter energy solution.”
DOC is also planning to install solar hot water systems at nine more mainland sites. Up to three of these will go on staff quarters on the Heaphy Track, reducing the number of helicopter LPG cylinder replenishment flights.
Kathryn Maxwell says the solar hot water systems will cut the hot water energy bills at the remote sites by about 80 percent and the systems will pay for themselves within five years.
This year’s installation programme is the result of a 50/50 partnership between DOC and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
“It’s great to see the Department of Conservation showing leadership in energy conservation,” said Mike Underhill, Chief Executive of EECA. ‘Using solar water heating in remote locations is particularly effective because you are offsetting the carbon emissions from the diesel generator and the transport to get the fuel there in the first place. DOC are walking the talk by investing in technologies that save energy, save emissions and will ultimately save tax payers dollars.
The Auckland company, Solar Group Ltd, has won the contract to complete the installations and initial site visits have already begun on Great Barrier and Matiu/Somes Islands.