"Hi, Craig here from GridFree. Today, I'm at Stony Batter Historic Reserve. They run one of our Starter kits and today, Tim Moon is going to give us a tour."
"Kia Ora! I'm Tim." "Hi, Tim. Craig. Nice to meet you." "Nice to meet you. Welcome Fortress Stony Batter!"
"Well, by way of introduction, my name is Tim Moon. I'm an archaeological project manager. I'm usually working in Eastern Europe but with the changes in the world situation I turned my attention to doing some things here in New Zealand.
This Fortress Stony Batter, where we are now has been an abandoned place
for the last 70 or 80 years. It's absolutely magnificent and it's extremely important. It's a heritage one structure. Additional to that its also a national monument. Now there's only two national monuments in Auckland - one is the war memorial museum and the second is fortress Stony Batter hidden here on Waiheke Island - very important place.
You hear about Stony Batter Tunnels, but this is actually a British fortress, so it's a true fortress and there's only three in New Zealand. This is by far the largest. The whole thing is dug by hand with picks and shovels it's absolutely massive
in scale it's one of the largest constructions in Auckland. It's lineal length is four times longer than Sky Tower is high so it's an absolutely massive structure.
Some storage area we're just cataloguing artifacts as we find them. These
window frames of course are heritage so I use these as for making up new ones. Yeah. Just some of the things of daily camp life - piece it together.
Part of the constraints on the site as they've indicated is no electricity. So sure I could go and spend a vast amount of money and run cables to the main road etcetera but I really didn't see that as a solution. In approaching these constraints is about being clever in our solutions. Clearly solar is the future. Photons have been falling on the earth for thousands and thousands of years. We're only beginning to use them now."
"So Tim runs the Starter kit, and the Starter kit is one panel, one battery and one inverter, small inverter. You see the good thing about the way it's installed here is its unobtrusive, just one panel. He's got an angled to catch as much sun as possible which is great."
"Even though this is an extremely important building, I don't receive any external funding. So, I had to design a business model to accommodate that. So, we run a touristic model. The touristic model is very simply this that we present the
tunnels in a high state of preservation, we have guides that are instructed and trained in history and construction techniques and what went on here and people arrive, buy a ticket and taken on a one hour tour, guided tour. It opened
Summer 2021 after 70 or 80 years of being closed and we've had maybe some 6,000 visitors through in that time, and what we do is we take them deep underground into what we call the underworld to an environment they've never been before. In places that's dark and places that's subtly lit, and the idea is
to create an adventure environment.
And here we have one of the three big magazine chambers. A magazine is where shells are stored so essentially a shell is a bomb. They were stored with very strict protocol down each side of the room and the centre of the room is kept empty and then the shells are transported up there to the gun tower above us. But we're in a bomb proof bunker twenty-five meters below the surface and these walls are about a metre thick. So, it's an absolutely massive construction. If you come down here and look up there, you'll see how far underground we are already." "Woah!"
In this barracks building where we are now, there's been no electricity here since the 1940s when the military were here. I looked at potentially running generators, but I didn't like that ethos. You know, they're environmentally an issue. They create hydrocarbons etcetera and noise. We're in a very very silent place. So, there was really no question that I needed to go solar. In that situation, yes, I did look at a lot of the systems that were around and I listened to referrals and I was referred to GridFree.
When I approached GridFree, I found solutions were presented to me rather than obstacles. So I followed that path. GridFree offered a Starter pack, which is ideal for this situation. Our requirements are to charge torches, batteries, run point of sale equipment and also run internet through here through a satellite system that we've installed. And we - instead of a refrigerator we run a chilli bin that runs on 12 volt. Mmm. That keeps the guides lunches and drinks and everything ready for them."
"Yeah, and I love the fact that you're running so much off one panel and one battery." "Isn't that incredible?
So the Starter kit provided all those solutions for us. It was essentially a turnkey situation. Very very tidy unit. And we've been running that for 8 months now. And we find it completely satisfactory.
Alright well here we have the installation. Uh, we have the solar coming in. We have our inverter, controller, and then going down to the 200 amp hour battery stored underneath. We're running a router off here and then we're simply taking
one main feed off the inverter, running multiplugs off that to run all our other devices. I particularly like this. Everything's centralized, very compact and organized so if it requires any servicing, if it requires any checks we can
get to it very very easily.
Well, I think my next step in the off grid journey is that we want to expand. Uh we have to be very mindful of the heritage constraints in our expansion. That is that the footprint on the heritage reserve has to be minimal. The intrusion of cabling and wiring has to be very very carefully managed. And so in terms of the solar power situation my intention is to light these magazines using a dedicated Starter Kit for each magazine. I like the idea of doing a modular arrangement. That way if there's a failure only one unit will fail and others will still be active and able to service the facility. So essentially I'd like to buy three to four of those systems. Drop them around the reserve in various places. Run their cabling deep underground to service different sections of the tunnel systems. I see this
reliability in the system. There's capacity in system. They are low impact and easily installed.
In 2022, we're adding another component to this - we are opening an art
gallery section. So the idea really, is to create engagement with heritage spaces. So rather than people just coming to a heritage space and thinking "oh that was boring," we want to make it fun and interesting for them. So it could be a series of musical events in which case we would carefully cast the musicians that are involved and be showing them at a very very high standard. It would be a special event not a regular event. We are opening art exhibitions here. We're opening sculptural exhibitions. We are participating in Auckland Heritage Week. We've been invited to be a venue for the Auckland's Art Festival - that is what we're really doing with it. It's a very very special heritage building and in order
to preserve that value, we control what goes on here.
It's when you look back up that you appreciate how far underground you are. At
this point we're forty-two metres below the surface. And the reason there's some water here, it's very minor you can just see on the walls there, is that we've passed under the forest, under the stream, and we are now under the water table. So like, this is a bit like Kelly Tarlton's on the other side here. Just millions of tons of water around us.
Yeah, I think my advice to anybody looking at these systems is do your homework. Calculate what your energy consumption is realistically. Adapt your appliances to fit within a low energy consumption because at the end of the day we definitely have to move in that direction. But at the end of the day, you're offering turnkey solutions - I'm a fan for that. It's about finding a solution that is a solution and I think GridFree provided it."
So that concludes our exploration of Stony Batter. In fact, best day at work ever. It's been really amazing to see one of our kits used in a business environment, and enabling this place to be opened up and turned into a great destination
for people to explore."
To learn more about Fort Stony Batter, check out their website: https://www.stonybattertunnels.nz/