Terra Power Systems is hard at work powering one of New Zealand’s hottest tourist attractions.
The facilities of Ruakuri Caves are powered by a Caterpillar Microgrid technology system, using a solar-powered battery system with diesel backup.
This off-grid solution powers the ticket and tour office, cave lighting, and a nearby water pump for farm irrigation.
And Ruakuri Cave is one for the bucket list. It is one of several caves in the Waitomo, near Auckland, and it’s been named a must-do experience by a leading travel journalist.
Inside the cave, you’re greeted with enormous stalactites, limestone formations and ancient fossils. You’ll also find glow-worms and crystal tapestries on the 1.5-hour tour.
The well-formed cave paths are bathed in soft lighting, an experience made possible with sustainable power from a Terra Power Systems microgrid.
The microgrid uses three major components:
Caterpillar thin film photo voltaic (PV) panels
30kWh of lithium batteries
A Cat® DE11 11kVA Standby (10kVA Prime) rated generator
The extremely low fuel burn is a significant saving for the Ruakuri operation – it means reduced CO2 emissions and free sun-powered electricity, says Greg McCarthy, Terra Power Systems General Manager.
It’s a great showcase of the many benefits of renewable energy.
Microgrid solutions are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative way to supply power where replacing existing network assets is uneconomic.
The solar is designed at a 1.2 AC/DC ratio to optimise winter energy yield,
More PV panels, inverters, and batteries can be added to the modular system if demand increases.
And, a cloud-based software system sits behind the plant, providing the owner and operator with remote access to information such as yield and energy balance.
The PV panels are self-cleaning, says Greg, and Terra monitors the site remotely. Maintenance is required when the generator runs for more than 500 hours in a year, so ongoing maintenance depends on how often the generator runs.
Tourism Holdings Limited, which operates the site under a lease from the Holden Family, has said renewable energy is a key part of the partners’ sustainability vision.
Ruakuri Cave is not something you want to miss. Find out more about the solar-powered experience here.