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Dowse Art Museum flicks the switch on solar power

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

You may not be able to see them on the gallery wall, but with the installation of solar panels on its roof this week, visitors to The Dowse Art Museum can feel confident the gallery is serious about its long-term commitment to reducing energy costs.

Twelve solar panels have been installed on the north-facing section of the roof, as part of a series of initiatives designed to make The Dowse as energy-efficient as possible.

The 3-kilowatt photovoltaic solar system absorbs sunlight and converts it into power. Visitors can monitor the amount of power harvested each day via an LCD screen in the lobby.

The Dowse is aiming to reduce its energy use by 15 per cent. Along with a recent energy audit with local firm ECOsystems, and an on-going commitment to seeking more efficient ways of carrying out every aspect of its business, the solar panels are another innovative step towards the art museum’s vision for a ‘greener Dowse’.

"The Dowse is committed to behaving in a sustainable way; embracing a culture of adopting and adapting new ways of doing things," says Dowse Director Cam McCracken.

Helping flick the switch on the system is Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace, a long-time supporter of renewable energy. Mayor Wallace says making solar power more affordable will go a long way to help people save money and combat climate change.

"Using solar energy has a positive impact on environment, and it’s something the council encourages," Mayor Wallace says. "Seeing it in action at The Dowse will hopefully make people realise solar power is smart and achievable."

Council will waive building and resource consent fees if homeowners install self-sufficient energy systems (such as solar or heat pump hot water systems, wetbacks connected to pellet stoves or rainwater tanks) or double-glaze pre-2000 homes.

Environmental Sustainability Manager Jez Partridge says the $11,000 system represents a long-term investment for the council. "The panels will cut The Dowse’s energy bills, reduce council’s environmental footprint, and hopefully encourage the community to invest in this exciting technology."

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