Solar alchemy: making it, mixing it & turning it into liquid gold

24 January 2023

As energy prices continue to surge and volatility reigns in the market, could now be the time for your business to bask in the cosmic power of solar?

Take a moment to factor in the potential cost savings, reputational benefits of clean energy, and the carbon savings your business can achieve – and it’s definitely worth taking a look. Or maybe even a second look if you haven’t considered it for a while. 

Solar landscape changing

Total Utilities Director Chris Hargreaves said, “The landscape of how a company can integrate solar is changing and there are more options becoming available. 

“While we continue to provide solar audits, and can design and install fully customised solar power systems, as well as advise on how to quantify carbon savings – we’ve also developed a hybrid solar option for our clients. This solution is a power procurement option that incorporates buying solar direct from a solar farm.”

Hybrid solar solution

NZ’s first solar farms aren’t expected to start connecting to the grid until somewhere between August or September this year, but Total Utilities’ hybrid plans enable clients to buy direct from a solar farm now using a power purchase agreement. This can then be combined with supply from their traditional energy retailer.

The solar gets supplied to the retailer, for example Mercury or Genesis, who can package it all up together and bill a hybrid price. Using this procurement solution, Total Utilities creates significant cost and carbon savings for our clients.

As Chris explained, “Some of the ten year prices we’re getting from solar generators are 11 cents a kilowatt. When you compare that to what power suppliers are delivering during peak periods – some months it’s close to 30 cents per kilowatt. So you can achieve quite a decent amount of savings with these hybrid plans.”

To simplify things, let’s take a look at three basic models of power procurement: 

Here’s the traditional – vanilla if you like – method of power procurement direct from a power supplier AKA Meridian, Mercury et al.




This second model enables you to use your own generated rooftop solar topped up with power purchased from your power company in order to meet your total power demand.             








The third, hybrid option means us arranging contracts where clients buy solar direct from solar farms to use in combination with your supplied electricity.  








“The beauty of buying solar as a commodity is that even if you relocate your business site, you can still keep buying solar as it’s not tied to your location,” said Chris.

“So buying solar from a farm will be particularly attractive for customers who lease their premises or are likely to move – or for those who just don’t have a particularly feasible site.”

An array of solar services!

Total Utilities also provides solar feasibility audits to help identify whether actually installing solar power could be a good option for you. Our recommendations include a detailed analysis of cost benefits of solar versus implementation costs. 

Chris explained that installing a solar array can lead to up to 25 to 40% reduction in energy usage, which results in reduced carbon liability from grid supplied energy. Then there’s the savings of 10 to 30% on total electricity cost – although this varies depending on how much energy is used at night and what the energy costs are for the given site. 

This is a big saving when you consider that electricity is likely to be one of the top three expenses a business faces.

Boom time for solar

It appears that after some delay, the solar boom is finally on its way in New Zealand – following in the footsteps of other countries like Australia, where solar has almost 30% market share, and the US, which is aiming to generate 50% of its energy from solar by 2050.

Whether you’re making it or mixing it – solar is shaping up to be the way of the future to save carbon, money and the planet. 


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