Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Solar shines on 150 Māori homes

One hundred and fifty Māori households are set to benefit from clean, affordable and locally generated power, with the Government today announcing $3 million in funding support for 16 small scale solar projects.

Energy and Resources and Housing Minister, Megan Woods said the third round of the Māori Housing Renewable Energy Fund would give yet more targeted support to households with insecure access to power, or who are experiencing energy hardship, while many more will benefit from the sharing of surplus power through community energy networks or micro-grids.

“It’s great to see we have a good regional spread of recipients. Of the 16 projects, seven are located in Te Tai Tokerau/Northland, one is in Te Tai o Aorere/Tasman and the others are spread around Te Ika-a-Māui/North Island. All projects generate solar power but differ in how they store and share energy,” said Minister Woods.

Associate Minister of Housing (Māori Housing), Peeni Henare said projects from earlier funding rounds were reporting that installing equipment like solar panels and household batteries had made a huge difference to whānau struggling with their power bills.

“Some have had theirs drop by 30 to 50%,” Mr Henare said.

“These 16 projects are really exciting. One will install solar panels on eight marae along the eastern coast of Northland, creating a virtual network to support rural households under the Kaupapa of Te Poari o Ngātiwai, known as Te Rangi Paki o Ngātiwai. Another in the Bay of Plenty is installing a solar smart grid across 35 homes in a papakāinga that will share a community battery,” he said.

Minister Woods said it was pleasing to see some projects also developing the knowledge and skills of the local community.

“For example, Te Āhuru Mōwai*, a Ngāti Toa-owned community housing provider, received funding from the earlier round, and is now collaborating with Victoria University researchers to support community houses with innovative solar energy solutions.”

“They’ve also teamed up with SolarZero, which is looking to use, train and support an iwi-affiliated company to help with the installation and are working with a local Māori electrical trade business,” she said.

“As we transition towards a net-zero carbon future, it’s important to fund projects like this that test new ways to share and store off-grid renewable energy to see at a micro-level what works well, and better understand the costs, benefits and challenges. This will be valuable when considering future projects, such as the new $16 million community-scale renewable energy fund that was announced in this year’s Budget.”

Round 3 funding also includes a further $5 million to fund larger-scale projects, with applications are currently being assessed.

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