It seems fitting that New Zealand‘s Department of Conservation (DOC) should take steps to reduce its carbon footprint, even as it helps Kiwis conserve and celebrate their natural heritage. Toward that end, the government agency has been systematically cutting the demands for diesel at its island stations with solar power systems–the latest of which have been installed at two bases on the Great Barrier Island.
Comprising one of the largest off-grid solar power systems in the country, these 138 solar panels are expected to generate at least 37,000 kilowatt-hours per year. That means they’ll kick in up to 80 percent of the power needed to run the DOC’s two bases at Port Fitzroy and Okiwi, where 11 staffers are based, relegating four diesel generators to a backseat role in power production.
These installations, which were completed just six months after they were announced last October, are part of the DOC’s sustainability program, which seeks to cut the agency’s use of diesel at places that are not on the national electricity grid by converting to renewable energy systems such as solar. The Great Barrier joins Motutapu, Tiritiri Matangi, Motuihe and Hauturu/Little Barrier as the fifth island in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park where the agency has installed solar power system to cut or replace diesel generation.
According to the DOC, visitors to its campground at Akapoua Bay are enjoying the peace and quiet now that the old diesel generators at the DOC workshops have been switched off–but they’re not on the only ones celebrating the demise of these noisy generators, which have long been the bane of staff members at the Okiwi station.
“With the diesel generators, the system would fall over if [staff members] all ran their vacuum cleaners and washing machines at the same time,” Tim Brandenburg, the DOC’s Warkworth and Great Barrier Island area manager, said in a statement. “They even avoided everyday appliances such as toasters and jugs [kettles] to conserve electricity. Now the supply is much better and our staff can join the 21st century.”