More Kāinga Ora customers are set to gain the benefits of solar electricity, thanks to a new partnership between Kāinga Ora and Ara Ake—New Zealand’s future energy centre.

The organisations recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help achieve common goals around sector decarbonisation, improving the value of solar PV and reducing energy hardship. 

A key focus of the relationship is to establish an energy sharing pilot, where Kāinga Ora homes fitted with solar panels will be able to share the benefit of excess solar with customers whose roofs are unsuitable for solar installations. 

“It’s great to see these two government-backed entities working together to further improve energy affordability for ordinary New Zealanders, making our homes warmer and our climate future brighter. It is only by learning more about what solutions work best that we will ready New Zealand for a decarbonised future”, says Dr Megan Woods the Minister of Energy and Resources. 

Kāinga Ora General Manager Strategy, Finance and Policy Gareth Stiven, says the trial is an exciting opportunity to improve customer wellbeing while contributing to sustainable, climate-resilient communities.

“At Kāinga Ora we’re conscious that energy innovation solutions are not always equitable, and being disadvantaged from the benefits of solar due to the size or orientation of your roof space is a good example.”

“The partnership with Ara Ake supports our trial of a unique solution that maximises the value of solar PV by sharing the benefits across multiple homes.

“Energy hardship affects many New Zealanders, and it’s our hope that with the continued support of Ara Ake, this solar sharing trial will build momentum for other national energy sharing initiatives,” said Stiven.  

Ara Ake Chief Executive Dr Cristiano Marantes, said an energy sharing pilot with Kāinga Ora could provide real world information and lessons about the barriers and benefits for Multiple Trading Relationship (MTR) type arrangements.

“Ara Ake is piloting the concept of MTR, which aims to introduce more competition into the electricity sector, making electricity cheaper for customers, helping reduce energy hardship and allowing for a greater uptake of low emission technologies, such as solar.

“Information gathered through the Kāinga Ora trial could help inform the policy and legislative changes that are required to support the electrification and decarbonisation of New Zealand’s economy.

“Kāinga Ora is responsible for the wellbeing of nearly 200,000 customers living in over 69,000 public houses, and we’re pleased to have their support on our journey to bring energy sharing solutions to New Zealand’s electricity market,” he said.

The role of Ara Ake is to accelerate innovation and decarbonisation in the energy sector, while the Kāinga Ora renewable energy programme aims to demonstrate how public housing roof space can be used as a renewable energy asset and be deployed to benefit customers.

The Kāinga Ora renewable energy trials, funded to mid-2024 by the Government’s Māori and Public Housing Renewable Energy Fund, are on track to reach approximately 1,000 homes by 2024.