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SEANZ 2023: takeaways for solar businesses

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The annual SEANZ conference is New Zealand’s leading sustainable energy event, bringing together solar businesses from all over Aotearoa. Last week, our team were privileged to attend the 2023 conference – themed ‘Tomorrow’s Energy Today’ – and discovered that the Kiwi solar industry’s reputation as a “village” made for a friendly, collaborative atmosphere.

Here are our key takeaways for Channel Partners.

Sunny outlook

Between catching up with Channel Partners, Rowan went along to several learning sessions, which were split into a residential and commercial stream.  He described the panel of installers who shared their thoughts on industry insights, challenges, and wins as a real highlight.

The industry as a whole is buoyed by the belief that renewable energy is key to a sustainable future for New Zealand.  The speakers’ at SEANZ 2023 presented a compelling vision of a thriving solar industry that not only addresses environmental concerns but also stimulates economic growth and job creation.

Challenges and opportunities

There are challenges on the horizon, most noticeably some uncertainty due to the upcoming election and what the next government’s stance on renewable energy will be. New regulations for installers based on electrical standards are coming, along with updates to requirements for new entrants to the market. Staffing continues to be an issue, with an ongoing shortage of qualified people felt industry-wide.

Destructive weather events are another challenge with an outsized impact on the industry, as Aaron Duncan from Freenergy described in his talk. Aaron’s business and community suffered unprecedented losses as a result of Cyclone Gabrielle, which devastated the North Island in February 2023. The silver lining in Aaron’s story was the support and assistance of fellow solar business owners in the region, who pitched in to aid in the recovery.

Industry evolution and crystal balls

There’s no doubt that the solar industry in New Zealand has evolved in the past 12 months. The industry is thinking more about broader societal impacts within the ESG equation, demonstrating a commitment to social and governance outcomes. Bigger, bolder and more impactful installations are making headlines and creating a sense of pride in solar as a standalone industry.


“From installations on maraes* in the form of island-mode-ready microgrid projects, to the world class execution of the Allume Solshare on Kainga Ora multi-apartment units, there’s been an unprecedented lift in the sophistication of our industry. Though installed capacity in New Zealand still lags when compared to Australia, the solar industry is one of few industries left that employ the die-hard Kiwi spirit of resilient innovation”.

– Rowan Ellis, National Sales Director, Smart Ease NZ

Looking ahead, Rowan expressed enthusiasm about the industry’s prospects. “Immense opportunities are on the horizon,” he noted. “Commercial and industrial sectors are booming, the case for solar farms is increasing, and rising power costs are driving up demand, notably on the residential and smaller commercial side.”

These factors, combined with awareness of societal impact and sustainable growth should ensure that the industry is poised to shine brightly in the future.

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