New solar powered emergency hub

The Maraekakaho Hall will now be capable to act as a fully powered emergency response centre if required, thanks to an off-grid solution from Freenergy Solar Solutions.

Maraekakaho is a rural hub for a large rural community serving Southwest Hastings District. It has excellent access from all directions and is not in any direct flooding risk. The hall is used as a vital community hub. The Maraekakaho Church Hall (MCH) Trust is developing a conservation and modernisation project which has now expanded to include the capabilities as an emergency response centre.

Freenergy Solar Solutions managing director Aaron Duncan said the Maraekakaho Hall was used as an emergency response centre during Cyclone Gabrielle.

“The hall had no power for over one week, meaning they were totally reliant on a generator for backup power. The available generator was a smaller single-phase model that had limited power demand,” Duncan said.

He said the MCH Trust researched and proposed an appropriate solution, arrived at a budget, and researched several funding opportunities. The budget was met by a combination of MBIE, Red Cross and Hastings District Council.

“The MCH Trust had a clear vision of what power requirements the hall needed to support an emergency response centre when they approached Freenergy Solar Solutions,” he said.

“Freenergy modelled a solution that would offer grid tie solar to eliminate power bills during normal grid circumstances and provide uninterrupted power supply during an extended power outage.

“This system will supply enough energy to keep the lights on, water heating, water pumping, septic and water treatment, cooking and charging of all electrical appliances including essential communications. The system is future proof so it can provide electric vehicle charging in the future.”

He said Freenergy was first contacted by the Trust in May, then they went through a number of design options, early October they got the green light to proceed with DG2 (application to connect solar to the network) compliance applied to Unison.

Mid November, application to connect to network was approved.

“The system was completed, commissioned and handed over to the Church Hall Trust on December 15, and is ready immediately so support the community in emergency response,” Duncan said.


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First published by BayBuzz. Click here to read the full article.