Two start-ups win awards for residential solar energy ideas

Source: 1News

Aotearoa has its own version of Earthshot - the environment awards made famous by Prince William.

Two Kiwi start-ups are rethinking how solar energy works and is used and have won two top awards, along with attracting the interest of big business.

One start-up has been examining regulatory settings for the use of household solar power.

Robert Turner of Red Phase Technology says 20 per cent of New Zealand homes using solar are wired to send some of the power generated to the grid, which then has to be sent back to the owner.

So he created a bright box to stop that.

“[We} went through a few prototypes but we're two years in now and we're getting the returns we expected,” he says.

“Its development is supported by Orion Energy, and the Ministry of Awesome – an organisation supporting growth for start-ups and innovators in New Zealand.

“What we were looking to do to find some really high end startups working in the energy innovation space specifically trying to get to that carbon zero target,” say Chief of the ministry, Marian Johnson.

The box picked up the top prize of $15,000 at the first Accelerator Awards.

“We will learn a lot from working with people like that who tend to approach those solutions quite differently than we might,” says Orion’s Paul Deavoll.

It comes as some households are increasingly struggling with the cost of power.

“Energy hardship is a growing problem and we need a sustainable answer for that,” says Empower Energy’s Michael Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald and colleague, Brian Stephens, recognised too for their idea, which allows those who are generating too much solar energy to give it to those in need.

“So we're hoping to form relationships with the main energy retailers so the people with solar panels now can just sign up to us, we'll deal with the retailer and giving the credits out should be easy,” Stephens says.