solarZero, New Zealand's largest solar energy provider, has won the Innovation in Energy Award at the 2023 New Zealand Energy Excellence Awards.
The award recognises solarZero's outstanding contribution to the energy sector by demonstrating a commitment to transforming New Zealand's power system, specifically through sophisticated management of its battery systems.
Matt Ward, Chief Executive, solarZero, says: "We're thrilled to receive the Innovation in Energy Award in a category of really impressive organisations."
"It's testament to our commitment to innovation and collaboration in the electricity sector, and driving Aotearoa closer to the ultimate goal of reaching 100% renewable electricity by 2030."
Established in 2009 by Andrew Booth, solarZero provides solar systems (consisting of solar panels and batteries) to customers who pay a fixed monthly fee for their solar power. This is while solarZero pays for the panels, smart battery, installation, maintenance, monitoring and insurance. The business structure is designed to remove financial and logistical barriers to 'going solar'.
The Innovation in Energy award was presented to the strongest overall demonstration of innovation in the New Zealand energy sector, such as a product, service, market, resource or business model that's different, game-changing and has proven positive impacts.
The judges found solarZero met this criteria with flying colours due to its innovative Virtual Power Plant (VPP), the largest in the Asia Pacific. Virtual Power Plant utilises their battery systems to provide power system stability and demand flexibility.
VPP technology is a critical enabler of New Zealand's energy transition at a time when electricity demand is increasing due to the electrification of the economy and the variability of renewable energy generation.
Working closely with Transpower, solarZero harnesses reserve energy stored in batteries across the entire solarZero customer network and feeds it back into the grid in milliseconds to help manage disruptions in the power system. The VPP helps keep the lights on when something goes wrong in the power system, thereby creating a more stable, resilient power system.
The VPP was tested in late 2022 and successfully delivered electricity through 3,200 household battery systems back into the grid when a frequency event occurred.
solarZero's VPP comprises over 11,000 customers, having grown by nearly 50% over the past twelve months.
solarZero says this initiative is essential to enabling the decarbonisation of the power system while maintaining power system stability and ensuring electricity is affordable for all New Zealanders. By mid-2024, solarZero expects to have 15,000+ of its systems enrolled for reserves, providing up to 80 megawatts of capacity into the reserves market.
It was for these innovations that solarZero was recognised at the awards ceremony, solidifying its role as an expert in innovation in the energy sector and a key player in the race to 100% renewable electricity.