The Solar Promise nationwide campaign launched

Issue 30 – August 2011

On behalf of Kiwis facing higher energy costs, the Nelson City Council, Nelson Environment Centre, and SolarCity launched a nationwide campaign on 11 July 2011 – 'The Solar Promise'. The campaign encourages all New Zealand councils to embrace solar energy and help protect their communities from the rising costs of electricity and continuing oil depletion. The campaign calls for councils, central government, individuals, and businesses to do what they can to make solar energy more affordable, to help New Zealanders save money, and combat climate change.

Andrew Booth CEO of SolarCity New Zealand says the goal of 'The Solar Promise' is to promote solar and increase uptake to make solar more affordable for all New Zealanders. 'Few challenges facing our families and communities are more urgent than the rising cost of power for our homes, and the twin crisis of climate change and oil depletion,' says Booth. 'New Zealand has a world-class solar resource yet only 35 000 New Zealand homes have solar.

'Councils have a central role to play in tackling climate change – and they are well placed to help New Zealand meet its renewable energy targets and create jobs and reduce energy bills for people living in their community. The launch of 'The Solar Promise' comes at a critically important time for the development of solar power in New Zealand, with power prices rising by 74% in the last 10 years and the price of oil at historic highs.

'If New Zealand was to match the same levels of uptake as Israel then our communities and families would be saving half a billion dollars a year and together we would stop 450 million tonnes of carbon entering the atmosphere every year.'

Nelson's Mayor Aldo Miccio says that a 2008 feasibility study carried out in partnership with the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA) and SolarCity showed the government's solar grant alone was not enough to help communities go solar. 'The study was clear: families want the immediate cash benefits from solar's savings, but they need to spread the cost of solar for it to be affordable,' says Miccio.

'From these needs, the Solar Saver Scheme was born – an innovative rates-based financing mechanism to help home owners spread the cost of going solar,' says Miccio. 'At the time, the Nelson City Council also chose to waive solar resource consents, to further reduce the barriers to solar. 'The Solar Saver Scheme has been a huge success for Nelson. In the scheme's first year Nelson families put more solar systems on their roofs than the whole of Auckland City, immediately getting up to one week's free power every month. We believe the Solar Saver Scheme is a vital policy tool for all councils, to assist their communities to reduce their energy costs, while also helping to maximise the contribution from solar to our nation's renewable energy target.

'The goal of 'The Solar Promise' is to make solar more affordable, and there are many ways that individuals, businesses, and local government can support that happening. One way is to go to 'The Solar Promise' website and pledge a promise – to encourage your council to put in a Solar Saver Scheme as part of this year's long term planning process – that is something we can all do easily to help make change.

'Nelson City Council's pledge to 'The Solar Promise' is to continue to waive resource consent fees for solar installation, retain the Solar Saver Scheme, and encourage all councils to consider a number of key solar policies in their upcoming Long Term Plan.'

Wide support for 'The Solar Promise'

Miccio says 'The Solar Promise' campaign has already attracted the support across all sectors: local councils; environmental groups such as Greenpeace, WWF, and 350 Aotearoa; industry groups like the Master Plumbers Association of New Zealand, the Sustainable Business Network, and the Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand; and businesses such as Kiwibank, Ecostore, and the nation's largest producer of renewable energy, Meridian Energy.

Other Mayors supporting 'The Solar Promise' include the following.

  • Hastings Mayor, and Local Government New Zealand President, Lawrence Yule, whose council is actively reviewing Nelson's Solar Saver Scheme for its community.
  • Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown whose council is interested in clean technologies such as solar for Wellington as part of its strategy Toward 2040: A Smart Green Wellington.
  • Marlborough District Mayor Alistair Sowman, whose council has committed to the Solar Saver Scheme through its Annual Plan and is running a 1-year pilot programme in advance of implementation.
  • Tasman District Mayor Richard Kempthorne, whose council is considering solar as part of this year's Long Term Plan.
  • Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, whose council is implementing Solar Saver Schemes this year.
    Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt, Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno, and Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks; whose councils have endorsed their local economic development agency, Venture Southland, to run the country's first regional solar pilot to debunk myths that solar water heating won' perform well in Southland. Their building control officers have been trained in best practice for solar water heating installations.
  • Whanganui Mayor Annette Main, whose council is looking at ways to encourage the use of solar power in their community, and is including discussions on the introduction of the scheme in its upcoming 10 year plan process.

Meanwhile, Auckland City Council's 250-home solar pilot scheme went to tender on 11 July 2011, with the goal of examining the performance and community support for a Solar Saver Scheme in the Auckland region.

Visit 'The Solar Promise' website for more information (

Summarised from a Nelson City Council media release 11 July 2011.

Related Standards

  • AS/NZS 2535.1:2007 Test methods for solar collectors – Thermal performance of glazed liquid heating collectors including pressure drop
  • AS/NZS 2712:2007Solar and heat pump water heaters – Design and construction
  • AS/NZS 4445.1:1997 Solar heating ­– Domestic water heating systems – Performance rating procedure using indoor test methods
  • NZS 4613:1986 Domestic solar water heaters
  • NZS 4614:1986 Installation of domestic solar water heating systems
  • AS/NZS 5033:2005 Installation of photovoltaic (PV) arrays

Published in energy.