Energy in New Zealand is used for many reasons; cooking, lighting, electrical appliances, and heating both water and homes. On Great Barrier Island the same holds true but with some additional restrictions. Fuel and gas(lpg) have to be transported from the mainland adding to their cost. Mechanical failures and weather can also interfere with the supply chain on some occasions restricting their availability. This can have a large impact on the Island and, as such, people tend to have multiple sources of energy generation.

LPG gas is the main source of energy used by households with 95% of them using it for heating, cooking, or hot water. For heating this can range from the standard New Zealand portable gas heater to the installed gas heating used at the Community Health Centre in Claris. For cooking people use everything from a single burner to an industrial oven with gas hobs depending on their needs. The heating of water is provided by califonts in a majority of households.

Solar is the next most used energy source on the Island, mainly in the areas of heating hot water and generating electricity. Solar is clean, quiet, cheap, and needs little maintenance.

Wood is the major source of home heating on the Island with nearly 80% of households using it. With the addition of a wetback you can not only heat your home but also your water at the same time and many Islanders use it in this way. Wood is plentiful on the Island and there are many suppliers.

Diesel and petrol generators are still used by the majority of households, but mainly as a backup.

Wind and water turbines are the energy source on the Island used least. This is due to the requirement for special conditions to be able to operate such as access to clear air flow or a stream with sufficient head and volume.

Energy storage, at least in electrical terms, is provided by batteries. The most common battery on the Island is Lead Acid based and advances are still being made in the efficiency of this type of energy storage such as the Lead Carbon battery. Also worthy of note is the forthcoming range of Salt Water batteries which are currently the only battery to have gained a Cradle to Cradle Bronze certification making them the worlds first environmentally friendly battery.

It should be remembered that, before adding more generation or storage capacity to a household, energy efficiency, insulation, better monitoring, and load shifting should be investigated as a better and often cheaper solution. This should also include the exploration of possible passive and eco design features.

Last updated on the 06-04-2020