Jul 6, 2024
Electric Avenue: July 6

On this week's e-highlight reel, electricity generating windows from across the Tasman, the role community-owned microgrids can play in regional areas, the rise of electric boats, and how heat pumps save money and reduce emissions.

A window into the future

Australian company Clearvue Technologies is preparing to launch its world-first solar-generating windows later this year. 

At first, the focus will be on larger office buildings and apartments (there’s already one building in Melbourne having them craned into place), and residential buildings will come next. 

The technology has been in development for around 15 years and, in the example above, it will offset all the grid electricity the building needs. 

Solar windows. Solar fences. All we need now is a solar powered EV. Oh, wait…

Own your power

Simon Wright, a researcher at Charles Sturt University, has written an excellent piece for The Conversation examining research on the role of microgrids in remote Australian communities. And there are plenty of lessons there for remote New Zealand communities that are still reliant on diesel.  

“Small collections of electricity generators, or 'microgrids', have long been used in disaster recovery, when network supply falters during bushfires or cyclones. But now the technology is being used to provide secure, 24-7 supplies of clean energy in Australian communities where connection to the main electricity grid is but a pipedream.”

“The benefits include energy security, reliability, equity, autonomy and emissions reduction. Above all, microgrids offer a viable alternative to the national electricity grid. They enable communities to take control of their own energy destiny through local generation and ownership.”

Water, water everywhere and not a drop of diesel

Just as electric vehicles are slowly taking over on the road, electric boats will soon become a more common sight on the water, whether it’s large passenger ferries, fancy pleasure boats or fast commercial jet boats. 

Kiwi company Vessev recently launched its beautiful hydrofoiling machine, the VS-9, and, in partnership with Fullers360, it will “become the first fully electric passenger vessel to operate in Auckland and the first hydrofoiling tourism vessel to operate in the world”. 

Naut is working on the Shotover Jet’s electric commercial jet boat and Ngāi Tahu Tourism’s goal is to convert 50% of their boats to electric by 2030. If successful - and it is a difficult challenge given the required power, weight restrictions and number of seats - there is also the possibility of licensing this technology to other boat operators around the world. 

If you’ve got a spare €400,000, Swedish manufacturer Candela has just completed the maiden voyage of its beautiful Polestar C-8. 

At the larger end of things, there's already an electric ferry in action in Wellington, built by the Wellington Electric Boat Building Company; Auckland is getting two big electric ferries next year that can carry around 200 passengers; and big electric ferries (from the likes of Australia's Incat) that can carry thousands of passengers and their cars (*cough, Interislander, cough*) are more regularly hitting the water

Quiet, clean and fast. What’s not to like? 

Pump it up

They may not be as sexy as EVs or electric boats, but heat pumps play a crucial role in bringing down emissions - and costs. The International Energy Agency estimates that "globally, heat pumps could reduce CO2 emissions by 500 million metric tons—equivalent to taking every car in Europe off the road."

In Scandinavia, heat pumps have been prioritised as a way to move away from fossil-fuel heating. And the results have been impressive. 

New Zealand is already well onboard the heat pump train, mostly for heating. In Australia, they are generally known as “reverse cycle airconditioners" and a regular piece of advice homeowners are given is to "find the heating button on your aircon, because that is the cheapest heating in your house". 

Like many electric machines, the reason they cost less to run is because they are so much more efficient, and engineers are still trying to squeeze every last bit of efficiency out of them.

Read moreDownload the full proposal here

More News