In 2016 we turned both our Franz Josef and Wellington hostels into beacons of renewable energy by installing solar panels. In 2017, much to our excitement, YHA Aoraki Mt Cook joined their ranks as well. We're hoping to continue bringing more hostels on board over time.
Sunshine Solar came on board as a project partner for what they believe is one of the largest solar systems on the West Coast. They installed the 108 square metres of photovoltaic panels at YHA Franz Josef, which generate 125 kilowatts on an average day.
This system is not only to generate power and to heat the hostel’s water; Sunshine Solar’s goal is to help the hostel reduce CO₂ emissions by 5.5 tonnes per year, power usage by 6% and gas usage for heating water by 20%.
Wellington is known as the Windy City but it gets a whole lot of sunshine too. So we installed a solar system at YHA Wellington to tap into those sunshine hours and reduce the hostel’s carbon emissions by 1.4 tonnes per year. That’s a lot less carbon dioxide in the air! It took a helicopter navigating wind and rain and coordinated manpower to drop the 45 panels into place, but the system is now generating a steady supply of clean and renewable energy.
We have splash monitoring systems too. This means we can see which areas of these hostels are using power in real time, which helps us to switch off in the places using the most energy. This is all helping us in our efforts to stay carbon neutral. Wicked!
Sunshine Solar returned for round three in installing the first solar powered system in the Mt Cook Village. They've installed 76 photovoltaic panels on the roof of YHA Aoraki Mt Cook, along with 300 solar evacuated tubes and some fancy new cylinders designed to help heat hot water in the hostel.
The system is predicted to generate over 70MWh of renewable energy each year, and a number of other organisations in Mt Cook Village are now interested in installing their own solar systems. Great stuff!
We're also excited to be tapping into a geothermal down-bore heat exchanger at YHA Rotorua.
This harnesses geothermal energy to heat the hostel's potable hot water supply, and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This is one of the cleanest forms of energy as it's constant and requires the lowest amount of embodied energy processes to capture and utilise.
YHA Rotorua previously produced a significant amount of YHA New Zealand’s total carbon emissions due to its use of natural gas and electricity. The down-bore heat exchanger will significantly reduce these emissions by 30% (or 18 tonnes per year), tying into our carboNZeroCertTM commitment.