Why everyone's talking about the Auckland Harbour Bridge

Later this year, Auckland Harbour Bridge will be illuminated by a colourful new lighting array, powered by solar energy. Here, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Vector CEO Simon Mackenzie talk about the joint project.

How long has this project been in the pipeline?
Simon Mackenzie, Vector CEO: Vector began talking to Auckland Council last year about how we could partner to achieve our shared goals of reducing energy consumption and promoting clean energy technologies that have environmental and cost benefits for everyone.

Where did the idea come from?
Mackenzie: It’s the culmination of a whole lot of ideas that Vector and the council have to educate and encourage Aucklanders to adopt innovative technologies that will save money and help achieve the council’s carbon emission target of 40 percent by 2040. When lit, the bridge will be a constant reminder to Aucklanders that sustainable, “green” energy is here now, and is anything but dull!

How long will it take to complete?
Mayor Phil Goff: It’s expected to take several months once the council planning, consenting and NZTA approval processes are completed. Watch this space.

The LED lights will be powered by solar energy, a world first – why are we the first city to use this kind of technology?
Mackenzie: Technology is changing so rapidly that it takes focus and determination to keep up. Vector has really embraced new technology and is committed to giving Aucklanders a choice in how they use and store energy. The lighting of the bridge is our way of demonstrating that irrespective of the size or scale, sustainable energy is available and adaptable for any structure, building or house.

The lights can be individually controlled to transform the bridge for special events – what do you see the bridge being lit for?
Goff: As well as seasonal themes, the bridge will provide a unique way to showcase a number of events such as Matariki, Diwali, Pasifika and more. 

What kind of special effects are the lights capable of?
Mackenzie: The great thing about these lights is that they are fully programmable. That means each of the more than 90,000 pixels can do its own thing.  Special effects will be limited only by the programming artist’s imagination.

How exciting is this for Auckland?
Goff: The bridge is an Auckland icon, and this is the next step in its evolution. It’s exciting not only because of the vibrancy of the lighting and how it will transform views around the Waitematā, but also because this bridge will be an icon of clean energy innovation we hope will inspire others.

 

Ten facts about the Auckland Harbour Bridge lighting project:

  • Vector to fund around 80 percent of the multimillion dollar project over the next 10 years

  • 630 solar panels

  • Almost 90,000 individual LED lights

  • +200 MWh of electricity will be generated by the panels in a typical year (enough to power 20 homes for a year)

  • 27 tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided

  • 4km of tube lighting

  • 200 LED flood lights

  • 20km of cables – the length of 200 rugby pitches

  • +4000 install hours

  •  1 mega battery to store the energy.