A Hastings eye clinic has completed a surgery powered entirely by solar power in what could be a New Zealand first.
Eye Surgery Hastings installed 120 solar panels on its roof on Karamu Rd and the system was switched on this week.
Co-owner and eye specialist Dr Alex Buller said their theatre and entire building ran completely off solar power during a four-hour period on Tuesday, during which time they completed multiple eye surgeries.
"I think it is New Zealand's first solar-powered surgery," Buller said.
"We have this online software that monitors how much electricity the building is using and how much electricity the solar panels are producing and for four hours on Tuesday everything was coming straight off the roof."
Buller told their first patient from that day - who underwent a glaucoma operation - that they may well have been part of a little slice of history.
Buller and his wife, Dr Sophie Buller, who is also an eye specialist, opened the clinic in 2018 and decided to go completely solar this year.
"We have gone for as many solar panels as you can get on our roof in order to maximise the gain.
"So rather than a few solar panels to shave off a bit [of power use] here and there, what we are predicted to produce is 150 per cent of the entire building's electricity needs."
He said the main reasons for opting for solar were ethical, environmental and financial reasons.
He said it also made sense with a large, flat roof and being based in sunny Hawke's Bay.
"There is going to be increased demand and costs on energy going forward, and I think it is a timely thing to do."
He said healthcare in general also had a long way to go in cutting down greenhouse gas emissions.
"Healthcare is actually one of the major emitters of greenhouse gases - it is one of the bad boys as far as industries go.
"It is actually very far behind other industries," he said.
"[There are] hospitals getting solar to do 5 to 15 per cent of their electricity but not 100 per cent."
He said he had done quite a bit of research to see if anyone else was powering their surgery off solar in New Zealand, but had only found similar set-ups overseas.
As for a back-up, if not enough solar is generated, Buller said it was not a problem as they were still connected to the main power grid.
He said the power grid kicks in if the solar panels don't generate enough energy.
He said they also run power through a battery in their theatre room, which means if there was ever a power outage it would not impact the theatre.
The solar set-up was installed by local company Ecoefficient Solutions, and Buller said the firm was fantastic to deal with.
He did not disclose how much the project cost overall but said it would take about 10 years for the panels to pay themselves off, from savings on their electricity bill.