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Fined for unsafe asbestos removal

A Christchurch builder was fined for unsafe asbestos removal, the first court case under the new regulations.

The removal work done in 2017 during a house demolition required someone with a Class A removal licence. The builder didn’t hold this licence and didn’t call in a competent person to help.

He also failed to safely manage the risks by failing to wear appropriate protective equipment and failing to decontaminate equipment. WorkSafe says he allowed other people to enter the house unprotected and deceived the building owners into thinking he was licensed to complete the work.

The maximum penalty for this is a fine of up to $20,000. Taking into account an early guilty plea, cooperation with WorkSafe, the fact that this was his first offence and other circumstances, the judge imposed a fine of $3000.

The prosecution was taken under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016.

 

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Home solar installations bigger

There has been a big jump in the capacity of home solar systems being installed.

The Electricity Authority says around 300 households are installing solar systems each month. The long-term average capacity of these systems has been 3.4 kW, but from early to mid-2018, this jumped to an average 4.5 kW.

Authority chief executive James Stevenson-Wallace says the change “could be because customers can get more value from installing a bigger solar system with a battery to store and then use the power”.

By the end of September, 19,497 residential connections had solar panels, 3,847 more than 12 months earlier. They have a combined capacity of 67.6 MW, equivalent to the energy use of almost 12,000 households.

Nelson has the highest proportion of residential solar installations, at 487 or 2.2 per cent.

Auckland has the highest number, with solar panels on 4,204 homes.

 

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Solar installations heading towards 20,000

New Zealand is close to passing the milestone where over 20,000 homes have solar power generation systems installed.

The publication Electricity in New Zealand, recently updated by the Electricity Authority, reports that there were around 18,000 residential connections with installed solar generation at 31 March 2018. Considering the pace of new installations, over 20,000 homes will shortly be generating power from photovoltaic systems.

The installed capacity by 31 March was about 62 MW (up from an estimated 43 MW in mid-2016 and just 8.2 MW in late 2013). As a proportion of total generation it is still very small – around 0.2 percent in 2017.

One big reason explaining the growth of solar installations is greater affordability. The installation cost of solar panel systems in New Zealand fell 75 percent in the 10 years to 2018.

Other sources of renewable energy generation include hydro, geothermal and wind. There is currently around 700 MW of large-scale wind generation available, supplying around five percent of the country’s electricity needs.

Around 85 percent of total generation is from renewable sources, a figure that is steadily increasing. The government has a target of 100 percent renewable energy output (in years with normal hydro inflows) by 2035.

You can download of copy of Electricity in New Zealand here.

 

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Better-than-Code KiwiBuild houses would deliver big savings

A new report finds benefits of $331m if KiwiBuild houses are built to achieve a Homestar 6 rating.

The report, Codebreakers: Constructing KiwiBuild homes to a standard above the New Zealand Building Code was written by economic consultancy Sense Partners for the New Zealand Green Building Council. It examines costs and benefits of constructing the planned KiwiBuild homes to New Zealand Building Code minimums, against building to a Homestar 6 level, which means a much more sustainable home.

Building to comply with the requirements of the Homestar 6 rating adds around 2.0–2.6% to costs compared to a home that just meets Building Code minimums. Over the longer term the house will deliver worthwhile net benefits, however.

Looking at personal costs (such as reduced water charges in Auckland) as well as reduced social costs such as less waste/fewer carbon emissions, the long-term benefits are over $3,200 for Auckland houses, $3,700 in Wellington and $2,900 in Auckland.

Find more information here.