Solar Farm and Community Investment Fund
Rau Kūmara – Aotearoa’s first community-owned solar farm! – holds the title of ‘Best Community Energy Project 2021’ from the SEANZ Fronius New Zealand Sustainable Energy Industry Awards. They called it “a quantum step forward” in energy production.
It was also a finalist in the 2021 New Zealand Energy Excellence Awards: watch their video here.
Energise Ōtaki, with a generous funding of $407,000 from the Wellington Community Trust, has set up two solar systems to generate power to go straight to users within the community.
In October 2020, a 23kWp system was installed at Ōtaki College and a 107 kWp system by the Ōtaki Wastewater Treatment Plant. The generated power is used at the College and to run the Council’s wastewater treatment process. Excess power is sold back to the grid.
Proceeds from this electricity are put into the Whakahiko Ōtaki – Energise Ōtaki Fund to support community-initiated energy projects. To apply for funding see here.
– Roof-mounted solar array on College buildings.
– 52 photovoltaic solar panels (total of 23.1kWp) with one 20kW inverter
– There is an agreement with Ōtaki College for the locating of the panels on their site.
This system is in addition to already existing arrays on the Administration Block funded by Pub Charity and Philip Foundation and administered by XŌtaki Alumni, which generate approximately $6k in scholarships / year.
Wastewater Treatment Plant
– A ground-mounted solar farm facing north at a 25° angle
– 240 photovoltaic solar panels of 445W each (total of 106.8kWp) with four 3-phase Fronius Symo 80kW inverters.
– There is a lease with KCDC for the land being used for the solar farm.
Monitoring services will allow us to remotely track
- Total generation and performance information
- Tracking of carbon savings
- Revenue grade metering
Starting in 2021, the Whakahiko Ōtaki – Energise Ōtaki fund is to be dispersed annually, according to funding criteria, to community projects. Governance of this fund is via an Energise Ōtaki sub-committee with representatives from Nga Hapu ō Ōtaki, Wellington Community Trust, Kāpiti Coast District Council and Energise Ōtaki. There is an estimated minimum $23k annual revenue from the two installations for reinvestment in community-initiated energy projects.
Energise Ōtaki’s goal is to have $100,000 annually going into Whakahiko Ōtaki – Energise Ōtaki Fund by 2023. We have identified 5 sites with the potential to have solar electricity generated in this ‘behind the meter’ system, where power is purchased directly from the solar installation, and revenue directed into Whakahiko Ōtaki – Energise Ōtaki Fund. These two locations are the first two of these sites. Energise Ōtaki is now investigating potential other sites and sourcing funding for future site installations.