Matakohe Limestone Island Solar Project - Hubands Energy

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Matakohe Limestone Island Solar Project
Travis Kask
/ Categories: Latest News

Matakohe Limestone Island Solar Project

North Power and Hubands Energy

Network companies are often seen as the roadblock to a clean green sustainable future when it comes to solar often getting flak for their rigid policies and negative stance on solar PV.  Not so with Northpower!  We have found them to be an incredibly proactive and progressive company that is looking into a future where solar PV takes an important part in Northland.  One project that we   

In partnership with Northpower, we teamed up to carry out a complete upgrade of the rangers house on Matekohe Limestone Island in Whangarei. The only power on the island was a small and very dated 12V off-grid system that was now failing to provide power for the ranger and his family living there.  Running power cables from the mainland to the island was going to be far too costly so an off-grid solution was the perfect answer to this challenging question.

Due to our close ties with Northpower over the years, they approached us to completely overhaul the existing system and install a solution that would suit not only this family but new families well into the future.  

The Island is only accessible by boat so it was a pleasure to have the ranger and his family ferry all the equipment and our installers across every day.  After removing the old 12V system we began work on installing the new system and we also had some of Northpower’s own junior contractors on site to give us a hand when needed. 

Our assessment found that a lot of their power usage was during daylight so we designed an AC coupled system using the Selectronic Inverter/Charger with a Fronius Inverter which gives them the best self-consumption during the day from the solar panels.  Excess energy is then fed into a Powerplus Premium lithium battery bank and we also installed a Honda AutoStart generator as a backup for when the weather is really bad for days on end.   

The new system has proven to be incredibly reliable and has catered for the rangers perfectly.  We were delighted to be part of this project as the conservation and education work they do on Matekohe Limestone Island is invaluable to our community. Having a proactive network company like Northpower has made a huge difference to the work we do here in Northland and we are very excited about the future of solar in our small slice of paradise.

Equipment Installed

  • 4.56kW PV – 16 x 285W Canadian Solar Panels
  • Clenergy Solar Roof Mounting System
  • Fronius Primo 5,000W Selectronic Certified Inverter
  • Selectronic SPPRO 5,000W Battery Inverter / Charger
  • Selectronic SelectLIVE Communications Gateway
  • PowerPlus Premium 48V 3.3kWh Lithium batteries
  • Honda EU70is 7kVa Auto Start Petrol Generator


About Matakohe Limestone Island

The Big Idea: Restoring an Island Ecosystem
It takes a large amount of work to put a forest back together! After years of industry, clearance, and stock pressure, only a hand full of trees remained on the island. The island was also overrun with mice and rats, the odd cat, and possums eating the remaining trees. Two of the primary goals were to re-establish the coastal forest that would have once dominated the island and eradicate the mammalian pests.

Tree planting
From humble beginnings in 1989,  a huge number of trees have now been planted on Matakohe-Limestone Island. At least 150,000 have been planted to date and the planting continues. This includes over 100 different species of native trees and plants, with seeds sourced locally. In the year 2000, to celebrate the millennium, over 23,000 were planted in one season, including 14,000 planted in a single day by over 400 volunteers!

The planting approach adopted on the island is to plant the fast-growing pioneer species, such as kanuka and manuka, that rapidly form canopy cover, essential to shade out the dense buffalo grass that thrives on the island. These pioneer species then act as a nursery crop for other native trees.

Kiwi was first introduced to the island in 2001 when adult birds Helga and Glen were released as part of a trial to see how kiwi would fare on the island. They did extremely well, and since 2003 the island has been operating as a ‘Kiwi Creche’ for Operation Nest Egg (“ONE”) and rescued kiwi chicks. A crèche site is a predator-free environment where young kiwi chicks, hatched in the wild or artificially incubated, are released to grow on without risk of predation.  Once the chicks reach 1200g or more they are then capable of defending themselves from stoats, which are the primary predator of young kiwi chicks, and can be returned to the mainland. In nine years nearly 100 chicks have ‘graduated’ from the island crèche and have been returned to the mainland. At any 
one time, the island is home to four adults (breeding pairs Glen & Baldrick and Sir Ed and Kahui whetu) and up to 30 “ONE” chicks.

The Rangers
The resident rangers, Emma Craig and Jono Carpenter, are employed by the Friends of Matakohe-Limestone Island Society through sponsorship by Golden Bay Cement and the Whangarei District Council.  They live on the island and undertake a wide range of important tasks. To protect the island and its resident fauna, they keep an eye out for any potential fire danger and to ensure no dogs are brought onto the island. They also keep the island predator-free, 
running an intensive surveillance and control program on the island and in the buffer zone. They liaise with island visitors, take school groups and manage and work with the fantastic island volunteers. They undertake and oversee the weed control program and the replanting programme and they monitor the recovery and re-introduction of threatened species on the island. Having a resident ranger is hugely important for the island and the Society is very grateful to Golden Bay Cement and Whangarei District Council for the ongoing support that makes this possible.

Learning Opportunities on Limestone
Matakohe-Limestone Island is a fantastic place to bring school groups of all ages. It provides a great variety of teaching opportunities including conservation, restoration & ecology topics, history, cultural heritage, geology, and geography, as well as the fun of a boat trip.

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