We love a challenge at Vector and there are few more important than addressing the impacts of climate change, which is why we’re focusing on creating a new energy future supporting our customers and the country to address the challenges of decarbonisation. Currently, only 12% of the energy used by New Zealanders’ cars, homes and businesses is carbon free.
This means we need to work together to champion fresh ideas and new energy solutions to get the country’s net carbon emissions down to zero by 2050, as set out in the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019.
At Vector, we are using cutting edge technology that benefits both our customers and the planet. Some of the ways we are working towards decarbonisation include:
EV Chargers and the Battery Industry Group
About 20% of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from transport. The Interim Climate Change Commission (ICCC) has reported that if more people use electrical vehicles (EV) it will significantly cut New Zealand’s emissions.
This cleaner and greener way of getting around is starting to be embraced by Kiwis. Over the past two years, we’ve seen the number of EVs on New Zealand’s roads nearly triple. Ports of Auckland now has an electric tugboat and Wellington is the proud owner of the first electric ferry in the Southern Hemisphere.
Further encouraging EV uptake, Vector is running the country’s largest ever trial of EV smart chargers, with 200 Auckland households taking part. The aim is to better understand and prepare for the impact that an increase of EV will have on electricity networks. In our last financial year, our public EV chargers enabled approximately 1,500 tonnes of CO2e to be avoided.
We have also partnered with industry leaders to establish the Battery Industry Group (B.I.G.). Together, we are working on exploring ways that batteries, like the ones found in EVs and on our network, can be reused and recycled through a product stewardship scheme that supports the circular economy. The World Economic Forum Global Battery Alliance states that a circular battery chain is a major driver to meet the climate ambitions of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement.
Floating Solar Panels
Vector Powersmart and Watercare have joined forces to build New Zealand’s first floating solar photovoltaic (PV) system.
Unveiled in September 2020, the solar array floats on top of the Rosedale wastewater treatment plant. It is the first system of its kind in New Zealand and is made up of 2,700 solar panels and 3,000 floating pontoons that can generate enough power for 200 houses a year. It will see a reduction of 145 tonnes of CO2 a year – the equivalent of taking 66 diesel/petrol cars off the road.
Supporting Niue’s new energy future
Vector is not just working within New Zealand and Australia. The South Pacific is one of the region’s most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, with rising sea levels threatening communities in low-lying areas. Most South Pacific countries have already started investing in renewable energy initiatives and setting renewable energy targets.
For many of them, this means switching off or reducing diesel generators that have been used to generate their power for decades.
Niue is one example. Vector Powersmart has worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and the Niuean Government to design and build a sustainable solar PV plant and energy management system utilising both solar PV and battery technology. This means that, on sunny days, Niue’s diesel generators can be switched off for up to 12 hours a day.
The solar PV system is connected to a battery energy storage solution (BESS) which is also connected to the grid at Niue’s power station. This state-of-the-art energy management system controls the flow of electricity from diesel and solar sources, while the BESS maximises the amount of solar energy used by Niue. As a result, there has already been a drop in diesel consumption and CO2 emissions. Vector Powersmart is currently working with other South Pacific countries to support them in their solar PV and battery system ambitions.