Climate Connect Aotearoa, in collaboration with Ara Ake - Aotearoa New Zealand’s future energy development centre, is preparing to launch its first energy challenge in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
Auckland is committed to halving its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Yet, the region currently generates a relatively small amount of its own electricity, relying on other parts of the country, like the South Island hydro-dams and Huntly’s fossil fuel-generated power, to meet its energy needs. There is growing interest in Auckland around producing, sharing and consuming resilient, renewable energy in ways that are affordable for the region and its residents. Climate Connect Aotearoa and Ara Ake will work together on solutions that will help make this goal a reality.
Our first energy challenge will be to investigate community energy sharing initiatives.
A key barrier for small-scale, consumer-owned energy solutions like solar panels and batteries is that the benefits cannot be easily shared with others to increase the value of such investment and enable equitable outcomes. Regulations in Aotearoa currently make it difficult, if impossible, to share or donate excess solar generation to your neighbours, whanau or community.
Aiming to address the barriers to solar investment and uptake, Climate Connect Aotearoa and Ara Ake are collaborating with potential partners to design and set up an Tāmaki Makaurau-based energy sharing pilot that draws on learning from Ara Ake and Kainga Ora’s solar sharing trial in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington.
In March 2023, Ara Ake, Kāinga Ora, and other partners requested a regulatory exemption from the Electricity Authority. This exemption would allow for the splitting of excess solar generation from public housing solar panel installations, enabling Kāinga Ora to "cash out" higher solar buy-back rates in the market. The revenues generated from this could be used to reduce energy hardship for Kāinga Ora's customers, especially those without solar panels in their own homes.
The aim of both pilots is to provide sufficient evidence of the benefits of energy sharing to make a case to the Electricity Authority for a permanent regulatory change, so that more communities can set up energy sharing projects.
This challenge demonstrates Climate Connect Aotearoa and Ara Ake’s shared approach to innovation and collaboration. By advocating for changes to underlying electricity regulation issues and demonstrating the benefits of these changes through innovation trials, we intend to unlock systems-level change that makes demand-driven climate solutions - such as energy sharing- more accessible and likely to succeed across Aotearoa.
Find out more about why energy sharing is a priority for Climate Connect Aotearoa and Ara Ake.