• New Zealand’s power and water utilities will jointly develop a floating solar array in the country, which they say will be New Zealand’s first such project
  • To be located atop Watercare’s Rosedale Wastewater Treatment Plant on Auckland’s North Shore, it will use over 2,700 solar panels and 3,000 pontoons
  • It will supplement electricity from the grid and will be used to cogenerate power from biogas generated by the wastewater treatment

Electricity & gas power company Vector Ltd and water utility company Watercare in New Zealand have announced what they call will be the country’s first floating solar power project. Fitted with over 2,700 solar panels and 3,000 pontoons, the system will be located on Watercare’s Rosedale Wastewater Treatment Plant on Auckland’s North Shore.

The utilities claim this is the largest solar project of any type so far confirmed in the country and the first MW-scale solar project. On completion, it is expected to generate power equal to running 200 average New Zealand homes for a year.

The array will be used to supplement electricity from the grid as well as cogeneration from biogas currently being generated from wastewater treatment.

To be developed by Vector PowerSmart, the project will be funded by Watercare. The floating solar array will help Watercare to reduce its energy use by 8 GWh by 2022 and achieve energy self-sufficiency at its Mangere and Rosedale wastewater treatment plants by 2025.

Timeline of project completion or its expected cost was not shared by the two companies.

“Even larger systems are already common overseas and with reports out of Australia of costs as low as 4-5c per kWh, when that scale arrives here we’ll see solar’s real potential to set a new cap on the wholesale market which over the past few days has been around double that,” said Vector Group CEO Simon Mackenzie.

According to a January 2019 report titled Te Mauri Hiko Energy Futures by state-backed transmission grid operator Transpower, New Zealand had more than 85 MW of distributed solar installed. Under the base case scenario, it estimated a potential of 16 GW of distributed solar installed capacity by 2050, with total rooftop solar capacity reaching 27 GW thanks to technological advancements and other factors.