May 14, 2018

42 kW commercial solar energy system for Whangaparaoa College


ZEN Energy Systems is very proud to have completed the installation of a 42 kW commercial solar energy system for Whangaparaoa College in Auckland, adding to ZEN's growing list of commercial solar installations.

In this article we will cover

The 42 kW, 150-panel solar energy system supplied and installed by ZEN Energy Systems

ZEN Energy Systems is very proud to have completed the installation of a 42 kW commercial solar energy system for Whangaparaoa College in Auckland, adding to ZEN's growing list of commercial solar installations.

Whangaparaoa College's motivation to install a commercial solar energy system

Whangaparaoa College is a state secondary school located on the Northshore of Auckland, delivering positive learning outcomes to approximately 1,500 students. With the school being committed to energy efficiency and sustainability, it was driven to demonstrate this to staff, students and the general public. Through third party consultancy, TorqueIP, the school issued an Request for Proposal to identify a specialist solar energy partner with the necessary experience in the design, planning, scheduling, permitting, installation, testing and commissioning of commercial solar energy systems, to ensure a fully managed and well executed commercial solar energy project.

Why choose commercial solar energy now?

With a large baseload energy demand and heavy daytime use, Whangaparaoa College was looking for a commercial solar energy system that would:

  1. Help to offset their standard electrical demand when the school is in operation
  2. Have the potential to considerably offset their baseload electrical demand during weekends and terms breaks
  3. Educate students and staff in sustainability and renewable energy sources
  4. Meet the school's sustainability goals and reduce their impact on the environment
  5. Provide a meaningful reduction in electricity purchased from the grid, while allowing easy future system expansion

Upon being awarded the contract to complete the project, ZEN set about delivering a commercial solar energy system that the school would be proud of, both today and well beyond the expiration of the 25 year dual warranty period.

What ZEN delivered as a commercial solar energy system

Making full use of the school's 'J Block' roof and enabling visibility to students and visitors, ZEN designed the commercial solar energy system to consist of 150 x 280 watt LONGi Solar panels on tilt frames, to maximise year round generation. Each panel has been paired up with an AP Systems micro-inverter, delivering on the school's desire for long-life warranties of 25 years (matching panel performance warranties) and individual panel monitoring.

The benefits of commercial solar energy for schools

In the same manner as a commercial business, the school's operations are ideally matched to benefit from solar energy. The extensive consumption analysis completed by ZEN showed that even at the height of summer, during the school holidays, the school baseload demand will be significant enough to see close to 100% of the solar generation used internally. Continued monitoring of system generation vs. comsumption will further help understand the needs of any future system expansion.

With an expected output of approximately 59,000 kWh per year, the system will  provide approximately 12% of the school's current electrical demand. To put this into persepctive, this is enough energy to run seven standard New Zealand houses, 24 hours per day, 365 days of the year. Not bad for a single commercial roof!

Commercial Solar Energy is especially important for schools. As Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand chairman Brendan Winitana has discussed before, the country's 2,500 schools could cut their power bills by $20 million a year if they all installed solar energy.

"Schools are the perfect place to install solar because they consume all of their energy during the day and can, therefore, maximise the financial benefits," he said.

"If every school in New Zealand were to install a 25 kWp [kilowatt peak] system then the cost would be about $150 million and this is the scale that the Government should be investigating because it makes financial sense.

"A solar system installed on a school in New Zealand would be paid back within seven years, after which time the savings made on the electricity bill could be diverted into better learning opportunities for students.”

Quote from NZ Herald

ZEN Energy is proud to be part of this movement by installing high quality commercial solar energy systems for our future generations.

ZEN's view of the future of commercial solar energy in New Zealand

Importantly, for both ZEN and Whangaparaoa College, the visibility of the system and its performance will help to educate the students and allow them to grow throughout their secondary education with an advanced understanding of the real world benefits of solar energy. We believe this education and understanding will help form a generation of New Zealanders where solar energy becomes second nature and just a standard part of everyday life. Where commercial solar energy systems will be seen on the majority of available rooftops, delivering local and abundant energy to all types of enterprise.

This is what we at ZEN are striving to achieve.

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