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A&G Price install 1000 solar panels, the largest hybrid in NZ

One of New Zealand's largest and longest established engineering works has taken a step into the future.

In a marriage of old and new, A&G Price, a historical foundry in Thames, have installed 1016 solar panels.

Passers-by may have noticed the large scaffolding stretching up to the top of the building on Beach Rd, and general manager Peter Yates said interest had been mounting.

It could be because the installation is the largest hybrid in the country.

There are 1016 310W solar panels that stretch across 1660sqm of roofing. The term hybrid means the system has a battery included to store energy.

Yates believes the installation could reduce the foundry's yearly power bill by $100,000 - with whatever they don't use going back into the grid for the community.

"In the Coromandel Peninsula at Christmas time, there's a huge strain on the power network. Our hours are outside the peak usage, and through the Christmas period, we're actually shut for maintenance, so the power can go straight in to top up the network," he said.

"So solar is a great way in helping alleviate that problem."

Yates said going solar was a step in the right direction for the company and symbolised its evolution.

"We've been focused on the sustainable and have made conscious efforts in other parts of the foundry.

"We're not using fossil fuels; all the heat treatment ovens are electric powered. We recycle around 99 per cent of the steel we use for melting, and around 90 per cent of the sand we use, so really, solar just fit in, and the technology has moved to the point where it's become a good payback. 

"Environmentally, we're also reducing our carbon footprint."

The foundry will also swap out their incandescent light bulbs for LEDs, Yates said.

In 2017, months away from marking its 150th year, A&G Price went into liquidation and laid off 100 workers.

The company was sold to businessman Chris Reeve, and now maintains a 46-person roster.

Yates said the installation of the solar panels, and the fusion between an old craft and modern technology, was the "new and transformed" A&G Price.

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