WITT to become testbed for energy-saving tech of the future

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Story by Stuff Reporter: Elijah Hill

Taranaki’s largest tertiary education provider is set to become a testing bed for the energy-saving technology of the future.

One of the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (Witt) buildings at its New Plymouth campus will be fitted with everything from solar panels and efficient lightbulbs to software that makes sure energy is moved to the right places at the right time.

A second, identical building will be used as a ‘controlled variable’ to compare energy consumption.

The goal for the block is to cut its energy consumption by half and become 100% self-sustaining.

Witt will partner with Ecolabs – a collaboration between Nanyang Technological University, Enterprise Singapore, and the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore.

Ecolabs helps incubate startups which need to test their tech and Witt will provide a testing ground.

Speaking from Singapore, where he attended the launch of the Ecolab partnership on Friday, Witt chief executive John Snook said it would allow students to train on the technology of the future.

“These are all startup businesses that have a new piece of technology that needs to be tested as a proof of concept before they can take it to the general public.

“Our electrical students, for example, would be getting their hands on this cutting-edge technology and they'll be the first to learn how it works, how to install it, and how to maintain the technology.”

Snook said if New Zealand was going to be carbon-neutral by 2050, students needed to know what the industry needed today, but also what it would need tomorrow.

“They can then start to lead the industry.”

All going well, the Witt testbed may be replicated in educational institutes across the country.

The partnership was facilitated by New Zealand’s Future Energy Centre, Ara Ake, which is based in New Plymouth.

Ara Ake chief executive Dr Cristiano Marantes said the project was an “exciting opportunity to gain expertise from global innovators and share leading international technology”.

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