17 Jun 2013

Solar energy focus at Fieldays

6:33 am on 17 June 2013

Final gate figures show more than 125,000 people attended New Zealand's largest agricultural event, the National Agricultural Fieldays, this year.

The theme for this year's Fieldays was 'getting down to business in the global economy'.

The theme for this year's Fieldays was 'getting down to business in the global economy'. Photo: RNZ

It wasn't the crowd record that Fieldays organisers were hoping for, to top last year's 128,000 attendance.

But chief executive Jon Calder said the four day agribusiness event which finished on Saturday was still a huge success.

An emerging business trend at this year's Fieldays was solar energy.

A number of exhibitors offered farmers solar options for their farms especially for heating and running dairy sheds.

One of them, David Keppel, is the managing director of What Power Crisis, a company involved in a Meridian Energy and Westpac scheme offering incentives for farmers to adopt solar technology.

He said New Zealand is way behind other countries when it comes to using solar energy but he says farmers are beginning to see the light.

Mr Keppel said the company is specialising in larger dairy shed systems, of about 10 kilowatt.

He said typically dairy farmers will use eight to 10 times more energy in a shed than a house will use.

Mr Keppel said the discounted system means that a customer would typically be looking at a seven to eight year return on their investment.

He said the price of solar panels has halved in just the last two years as Chinese manufacturers have begun making them, in competition with North America and Europe.