WEL Networks goes off grid to light up Te Awa Cycleway bridge
WEL Networks in the Waikato is lighting up the Perry Bridge on the national Te Awa Cycleway using a complete off-grid solution.
The Te Awa River Ride project team approached WEL earlier this year asking for assistance to light up the 130m long bridge which crosses the Waikato River at Horotiu.
WEL’s asset management GM, Paul Blue, says they were more than happy to contribute to the project, however initial indications were that the installation and ongoing maintenance costs wouldn’t be feasible.
“The bridge’s physical location would require significant infrastructure and money to connect to our traditional electricity network. We’re fully community-owned and this is a community project for our communities - we had to find a more cost-effective solution.”
The answer he says was right under their nose – well actually, on their roof.
“WEL’s vision is to create innovative energy solutions which will allow our communities to thrive well into the future. To deliver on this strategy we’re researching and testing new technologies as well as alternative and sustainable energy sources.
“In the past few months we’ve been testing the feasibility of providing solar power to our communities by installing 76kW of PV panels on our depot roof, so we knew this system source would be a cost effective, sustainable option and even more so if we set up an onsite storage system.”
The power supply consists of two 100-watt wind turbines and two 250-watt solar panels mounted atop 7-metre high masts sited at the base of the bridge. A 9kWh battery will ensure enough energy is available 24/7 to power LED lights on the brand-new bridge.
“The power we’re using to light this amazing piece of infrastructure is minimal, the equivalent of one standard pole streetlight.”
Paul says the team is excited to be able to put their research into practise and to work alongside the winners of this year’s Deloitte Excellence in Energy Technology Award, LZ New Zealand.
“We’re extremely fortunate to be able to access their expertise and knowledge in LED lighting which aligns seamlessly with our vision to provide innovative, sustainable energy solutions to our community. Using the smart network infrastructure will enable the lights to be turned on at dusk providing cyclists with safe access around and across the bridge.”
The bridge was officially opened on 2 November.