The Christchurch Earthquake and Rebuild: Impact on Energy

How did the quakes affect Energy Supplies?

The terms “Christchurch Earthquake” and “Christchurch Rebuild” will be familiar with virtually all New Zealanders by now.  The phrases will mean different things to different people.  But it’s worthwhile taking a moment to look at how the Christchurch earthquakes have impacted on the City’s energy sector.

On 22 February 2011 the second Christchurch earthquake rocked the City with devastating effect.  The quake measured magnitude 6.3, leading to nearly 200 lives lost and widespread destruction to homes and businesses across the city.  This earthquake was an aftershock of a much larger (M 7.1) but less damaging quake that occurred on 4 September 2010.  After the February earthquake, energy infrastructure and demand for energy in the region were affected severely.
Most of the city’s electricity distribution network lost power after the quake. The network owner, Orion Networks, reconnected about half the city by nightfall. In the following days, electricity was brought back to the city, with power restored to about 85% of the city within six days.  Sporadic, temporary outages in certain suburbs continued for several weeks after the February quake.
The reticulated LPG network in Christchurch, operated by Contact Energy, came through the earthquake in relatively good shape. There were outages initially, but service to most of the network (with the exception of the Central Business District) was restored within a few days. The network is thought to have survived so well because it consists of (flexible) plastic pipes laid through the old galvanised coal gas pipes.
Christchurch earthquake

Will a Solar Energy System be immune to a network outage?

Events like the Christchurch earthquakes have brought the issue of uninterrupted power supply into sharp focus.  So what options do home and business owners have in the event of a network outage?  If the system is “off-grid” (i.e. the property is not connected to the grid and relies solely upon energy produced from it’s own solar panels, backed up by battery storage and/or a generator) the property will be unaffected and can enjoy uninterrupted power usage in the event of a major grid or network failure.
Unfortunately, despite cheap or even free year-round energy in normal conditions, a conventional solar panel energy system will not be operable in a network outage if the system is “grid-tied” (i.e. the system is connected to the electricity grid allowing the user to use grid energy or export their surplus energy back to the grid).


As the city, its suburbs and affected rural areas begin to rebuild, it’s worthwhile taking a moment to consider solar energy as key component of your re-build strategy  CPS Solar has installed more Solar Panel Energy systems on the Orion Network than any other provider and are number one in Canterbury for solar and renewable energy solutions for the home or business.
Call CPS Solar now on 0800 277 548 for a free consultation or for more information.

More Information

If you would like to know more about how your home or business could benefit from Solar Panel Energy systems, then contact us now.