Helping ourselves to a smart future
Energise Ōtaki is a community initiative to build a resilient and sustainable future for Greater Ōtaki.
At its heart is a vision to become a community that can supply all its own energy needs and become a net exporter of energy.
The Energise Ōtaki vision is ambitious, involving action across many areas. It is about reducing reliance on fossil fuels, giving people choices about what energy they consume and how they purchase it, and increasing local clean energy generation. By reducing demand for energy through efficiency improvements and conservation, they aim to reduce people’s power and fuel costs and also improve their health, as well as reducing the town’s contribution to climate change.
Energise Ōtaki is advanced through community involvement in projects, large and small. The idea is not owned by any one group and relies on individuals, businesses and organisations becoming involved. Energise Otaki is supported by Kāpiti Coast District Council, Transition Towns Ōtaki, Ōtaki College, the Association of NZ Clean Technology Industries, the Ōtaki Mail and many others.
Energise Ōtaki has its own website where people can learn more about the vision, the projects and how they can get involved. Check it out at: http://energise.otaki.net.nz
An informal community group meets every two months to discuss ideas and projects and to see how they can be advanced under the Energise Ōtaki umbrella, as well as learning from guest speakers. All are welcome to attend. You can find the schedule at https://energise.otaki.net.nz/public-meetings
Solar Farm and Community Investment Fund
In 2020, Energise Ōtaki, with funding from the Wellington Community Trust, set up two solar systems to generate power to go straight to users within the community. A 23kWp system is now installed at Ōtaki College and a 107 kWp system, named Rau Kūmara, adjacent to the Ōtaki Wastewater Treatment Plant. The generated power will be used at the College and to run the Council’s wastewater treatment process, and the proceeds from the electricity sold will be put into the Energise Ōtaki Community Investment Fund, supporting energy and other projects in the town.
The Energise Ōtaki Community Investment Fund will be dispersed on an annual basis, according to funding criteria, to community projects. The governance of this fund will be via an Energise Ōtaki sub-committee with representatives from Nga Hapu ō Ōtaki, Wellington Community Trust, Kāpiti Coast District Council and Energise Ōtaki. There is an estimated minimum $25,000 annual revenue from the two installations that will start going into the Investment Fund for community reinvestment, in projects such as insulation improvements for households, education and local employment.
Green Chip report on Energise Ōtaki
A 2013 Council commissioned study from technology experts Green Chip found that:
- Greater Ōtaki uses approximately 161 gigawatt-hours per year – as much energy as running 6,000 bar heaters non-stop.
- Only one quarter of this energy is electricity. Petrol and diesel combined had the biggest share at 55% of the total.
- These fuels were the least efficiently used, with only 14% of their total energy being turned into useful power.
- Overall, Ōtaki is only 37% efficient. This shows a huge potential for improving energy efficiency.
- Ōtaki produces some of its own renewable energy – firewood, sourced mainly locally. This makes up 6.5%. All other energy comes from outside Greater Ōtaki.
Green Chip identifies energy saving solutions, such as home insulation, better heating, cutting down on car use and LED lighting as some of the best ways to reduce energy demand in Ōtaki.
The study highlights some exciting technology developments from around the world, such as giant funnels that direct the wind into compact, ground-level turbines and exotic processes for turning organic wastes into liquid fuels.
Council Energy Advisor Jake Roos says the study gives a road map for moving towards a future where local energy is a key component of a strong local economy. The full report can be downloaded below.