Dr Daniel Burmester is standing outside in the daylight while holding a solar panel.

Household solar power a bright idea

As a PhD student, now-Lecturer, Dr Daniel Burmester was on a mission to slash the cost of living and, at the same time, reduce New Zealand’s carbon emissions.

Make renewable energy financially viable

Dr Burmester’s PhD project was on residential renewable energy systems that aim to make renewable energy financially viable for homeowners.

“In New Zealand, selling power back to the grid is uneconomical,” says Daniel. “To get value for money from a solar installation, the best bet for a homeowner is to use as much of their produced power as possible. The system I looked at shifts around background household devices to make the most of power being produced during the day.”

Incentive to switch

Daniel also completed his undergraduate degree at Victoria University and, in his third year, was selected to undertake a summer scholarship project installing a micro wind turbine.

“During the project, my ethics and research interests aligned—and I wanted to continue exploring the subject,” he says. “People know about climate change, but addressing a massive issue like that is problematic for them because they feel like they can’t make a difference on an individual level."

If we can break it down to deliver a system that saves people money within a reasonable timeframe, it will be an incentive for people to switch to carbon-neutral options to run their homes.

Advancing quickly

Daniel enjoyed working with his supervisor, lecturer Dr Ramesh Rayudu, especially as renewable energy is advancing so quickly.

“There is so much happening and there are so many research avenues—it’s a really exciting area to be involved in,” says Daniel.

“I would love to see a practical realisation of the system I am working on.”

Now a lecturer in the School of Engineering and Computer Science, Dr Burmester is happy to be continuing his research and passing on his knowledge to others.