5 Jul 2010

NZ should not follow US solar example - Greens

8:58 pm on 5 July 2010

The Green Party says New Zealand should not rush to follow a move by the United States to give big money to solar power initiatives.

Two companies in the United States are being awarded federal loan guarantees of $US1.85 billion for solar energy projects, including the construction of what will be the world's largest solar energy plant.

It will cover 1900 acres and produce 280 MW of power, enough for 70,000 houses.

Green MP Kennedy Graham says New Zealand should not slavishly follow the US example of using a fiscal stimulus to promote a specific form of energy generation.

He says it would be better to increase the cost of carbon emissions instead, to send the right price signals to the private sector.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee also says New Zealand should not follow suit. He says New Zealand does not get enough sunshine hours to benefit from current methods of large-scale solar energy generation.

Until solar technology advances, he says, it is better to continue spending Government money on solar water heaters and improving home insulation rather than building solar energy plants.