Matt Ward CEO of solarZero and Cristiano Marantes CEO of Ara Ake sign

Ara Ake and solarZero collaborate on innovative winter 2023 peak solution for electricity system – enabling 30MW* of additional network capacity on-demand.

Ara Ake has announced a major, collaborative electricity pilot with solarZero in which Kiwis with solar and battery systems will contribute to the reliability of electricity supply for New Zealand, unlocking residential demand flexibility at an unprecedented scale.

The world-leading pilot integrates ‘distributed energy resources’ of approximately 11,000* individual homes with state-of-the-art Virtual Power Plant (“VPP”) technology* to help manage winter peak demand. 

The solar batteries located throughout New Zealand will provide their capacity to the electricity market system operated by Transpower and can be called on in the rare situations when there are potential electricity shortages. 

The result adds up to 30MW (roughly the same amount of power consumed by 30,000 homes) back into the grid. solarZero’s batteries take just two hours to fully charge. 

“It’s great to see this kind of collaboration take place,” the Minister of Energy and Resources, Hon Dr Megan Woods said. “These kinds of initiatives help to create a more sustainable and resilient energy system, which is crucial as we decarbonise and future-proof our economy.”

The pilot will be the first to utilise real-time pricing changes introduced by the Electricity Authority in April this year that enable sector participants to bid and offer their demand flexibility and ‘distributed energy resources’ into the wholesale market with more certainty.

“This is one of the most innovative, and globally significant, projects seen in the electricity industry in recent times. We’re entering a new era of energy in which households are active enablers of a smarter, greener and cheaper power system,” says Matt Ward, Chief Executive of solarZero. 

The pilot between Ara Ake and solarZero will:

  • Demonstrate how energy generated and stored by residential solar and battery systems can participate within the electricity market to provide additional capacity where there is a potential electricity supply shortfall. 
  • Build greater understanding within the energy industry of the capabilities required to facilitate a secure electricity supply into the future. 
  • Provide evidence to inform opportunities to evolve the electricity market by utilising distributed energy resources to manage peak demand. 
  • Provide insight into the role that households could play in balancing supply and demand, while potentially saving consumers money on electricity bills.

“This project demonstrates, at scale, the contribution that our own distributed energy resources can play in managing winter peaks, and it’s a great example of the convergence between innovation and collaboration, which is at the heart of Ara Ake’s purpose. The insights gained from this pilot will inform future projects,” says Dr Cristiano Marantes, Chief Executive of Ara Ake.

The program will test the potential for consumers’ rooftop solar systems with battery storage – operating in a VPP – to provide scalable energy and network services traditionally performed by large-scale, conventional electricity generators. 

“Electricity markets around the world are facing challenges meeting peak demand as they transition towards an increasingly renewable future,” says Dr Stephen Jay, Transpower General Manager Operations. “We’ve been signalling this challenge for some time as we have integrated more intermittent renewable generation into our system. This initiative will make a small but significant difference meeting peak demand now and will help drive the transition towards the more flexible, distributed and renewable power system of the future.”

“This is the first time DNL, which is part of real time pricing, has been used. It is great to see quick uptake of an exciting new market tool, one which will help pave the way to an increasingly renewables future,” says Sarah Gillies, chief executive of the Electricity Authority.



  • Up to 30MW available, based on a minimum solar and battery systems in play.
  • 11,000 is the number of current solarZero customers with solar and battery systems. All other Kiwis with solar panels and batteries are also invited to participate.
  • A VPP is a network of individual energy resources, such as solar panels and batteries located in different places, that generate, store, distribute and manage power collectively and share the benefits. Globally VPPs are being used in communities like Brooklyn/Queens in New York, Washington DC, California, Australia and Singapore.