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New Zealand Establishes First Large Solar Power Energy Plant

Solar energy is one environmentally friendly way to power homes or businesses. Since electricity is generated from sunlight rather than burning fossil fuels, there are no direct greenhouse gas emissions. Solar farms can provide a variety of benefits to local ecosystems and wildlife in addition to renewable electricity.

Taking advantage of this, one of New Zealand’s largest natural gas companies has made a significant investment in green energy by constructing the country’s largest solar power plant. This project was launched recently as the country needed sufficient electricity consumption to enable the first carbon-neutral airport, Hawkes Bay Airport to be operating just by using solar energy. The site has 5,800 photovoltaic (PV) panels and is also capable of generating enough electricity to meet the annual needs of more than 520 New Zealand homes.

The general manager of the natural gas company stated that the energy landscape in New Zealand is changing, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, and solar plants like in Kapuni will aid in this effort by producing clean renewable energy.

Solar farms differ from building-mounted and other decentralised solar energy applications in that they generate solar power for utilities rather than local grids. Solar plants in utility-scale solar farms range in size from 10 MW to more than 200 MW. Reports state that approximately 25 acres of land are required for every 5 MW installations that can power up to 1515 houses.

Electricity is sure to play a major role in achieving New Zealand’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To support the government’s plan to accelerate the electrification of the transport and industrial heating sectors, generation will need to grow by around 70% by 2050, all from renewable sources.

New Zealand’s electricity generation is currently around 80% renewable, with hydropower accounting for slightly more than half of that. The government is now putting NZ$ 30 million towards investigating pumped hydro storage, which uses cheap electricity to pump river or lake water into an artificial reservoir so that it can be released to generate electricity when needed, especially during dry years when hydro lakes are low.

Given these considerations, it is safe to say that using renewable energy sources may help save the environment. Solar energy generates pure, clean, and renewable power from the sun, making it an excellent substitute for fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal. It also reduces the global carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.

As shown in a report on the New Zealand Solar Power Market Outlook, solar power capacity has grown significantly over the last decade to become the world’s fastest-growing source of renewable energy. However, in 2019, around 109 GW of new solar PV capacity was added worldwide, about the same as in 2018. The rapid installations were primarily due to policy support and a sharp decline in technology costs and growing environmental concerns.

Solar farms are a simple way to produce safe, renewable, and locally produced energy for many years after they are built. While they are a relatively efficient and unobtrusive method of producing electricity, the disadvantage of this technology is that they take up a lot of space and are expensive.

However, the advantages of solar farms far outweigh the disadvantages of their high installation costs and other limitations. With innovative ideas from various scientists being developed to combat the limitations, solar farms could likely be the future of global energy sources. Scientists have also predicted that solar energy will contribute to a quarter of the world’s energy in the not too distant future.

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