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Asbestos awareness

The NZ Demolition & Asbestos Association and WorkSafe New Zealand are holding  an Asbestos Awareness Week 2018 Conference & Expo in April. It is being held at Alexandra Park Raceway in Auckland on Thursday 12 April from 10am–4.30pm. This is a free education day.

Most work-related deaths in New Zealand are the result of exposure to asbestos. Two-thirds of the people reported to have asbestos-related disease are tradespeople. Around 170 New Zealanders die each year from asbestos-related illnesses.

Some of the rules around Class A asbestos removal change on 4 April. From that date, anyone carrying out air monitoring or clearance inspections for Class A asbestos removal, or issuing clearance certificates for the work, will need to hold an Assessor licence.

For more information about asbestos, see the Level page or the WorkSafe website.



Building standards access and updates

Some key building standards can now be read online for free while others are about to be updated.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has sponsored some key building-related standards so they can be read online at no charge. They are:

  • NZS 3902:2004 Housing, alterations and small buildings contract
  • NZS 4121:2001 Design for access and mobility: Buildings and associated facilities
  • NZS 4218:2009 Thermal insulation – Housing and small buildings
  • NZS 4514:2009 Interconnected smoke alarms for houses
  • NZS 8500:2006 Safety barriers and fences around swimming pools, spas and hot tubs
  • SNZ HB 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings – Selected extracts from NZS 3604:2011

Some other key building standards are in the process of being updated and are now open for comment. They include:

  • NZS 3602:2003 Timber and wood based products for use in buildings
  • NZS 3640:2003 Chemical preservation of timber and wood based products

You can find more details on the Standards New Zealand website.

MBIE has also launched a new search engine, Building CodeHub, to help people find the latest building rules and guidance information.




Grid-connected battery trial coming this year

A South Auckland trial of a battery technology that could power thousands of homes will begin this year.

The large Tesla PowerPack lithium ion battery will take energy from the national grid, store it, and return it as required, such as when energy demand spikes or there is a disruption in the normal supply.

The energy company Mercury NZ says the 1MW/2MWh battery will be installed by August 2018.

In South Australia, a 100MW/129MWh project using the same PowerPack  technology is the largest installation of its type in the world. Tesla has said the installation there will be able to provide sufficient electricity for 30,000 homes for a whole day. In its first full month of operation, December 2017, it generated up to 100 MW of power. The battery installation responded quickly to several major energy outages.

The state of Victoria has since announced its own agreement to establish a grid-connected battery with Tesla. As with the South Australian installation, the Victoria project will take and store energy from a nearby wind farm.




Power system can handle solar PV growth

Research shows New Zealand’s electricity system can handle a significant increase in solar PV installations.

Transpower recently issued a discussion document Solar PV in New Zealand. The document looks at research into how the quickly-growing number of grid-connected solar PV systems might impact on the national electricity grid.

The research was done because rooftop solar PV electricity is different from
electricity generated in other ways. Small solar PV installations are widely spread out across the country and are not as easy to manage from a system level
compared to a single big generator such as a gas-fired power station.

Transpower stress-tested the system against a scenario with a substantial amount of solar PV in New Zealand. Their findings: “We know it is already in a good
position to enable an increase in solar PV in our communities now and in the

Some of the issues that need to be considered if there is a big growth in solar generation include:

  • There will be a huge increase in demand for electricity from other sources at night, when people who use solar power during the day switch to power from the grid after sunset. Can enough electricity from other sources be appropriately supplied to meet this demand?
  • If there is a failure in part of the power system, can it recover to a steady, stable state if there is a lot of solar PV in the mix?
  • If there is lower demand for electricity from the grid and more local supply from solar PV, will some regional parts of the grid be harder to manage?

The study showed that the core transmission network can accommodate significant new solar PV. This is because of its ability to accommodate two-way power flows (north-to-south and south-to-north) and for hydro generation to cover short-term variations in generation from other sources.