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  • Writer's pictureMike Casey

NZ's electricity crisis. Doing our bit and the need for Distributed Energy Resources (DER)

On the night of the 9th of August 2021, New Zealand did not generate enough power to keep the lights on for all its citizens. Our National Grid operator Transpower asked local lines companies to start reducing demand to protect the grid from hardware failure. This is known as load-shedding, and resulted in mass power cuts.

It was the most power demand in New Zealand history at over 7000+ Mega Watts.

Many households were unable to heat their homes on a cold night, and there will need to be much soul-searching in the industry to ensure this doesn't happen again.

But in disaster lies opportunity; an opportunity for change that now has a lot more momentum.

At Forest Lodge, we were doing our little bit during this crisis by actively exporting power from our batteries. We exported 15 kWh for around 2 hours, which is enough to power 3-4 average households.

Diagram showing Forest Lodge exporting 15 kWh back to the grid with 25% of battery left
Exporting 15 kWh back to the grid to help power households

You can see in the above screen grab, we were taking nearly 19 kW from our battery at the time, which was enough to power our own home's 4 kW consumption, as well as provide power for another 3-4 homes of the same size, while also not contributing to power demand at the time.

We believe it was our civic duty to export, and we could have exported much more if there had been a protocol in place to request us to do so. We believe that being available to support the grid at the right time and place should be financially rewarded in the same way generators are paid to generate power. DER could become a significant revenue stream for businesses and encourage more companies to install batteries and export capability.

We are under no illusion that Forest Lodge made much difference, but if we were one of 10000 SMEs supporting the grid, we may have been a small part of the solution to avoid power cuts in the first place.

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