Monday, February 26, 2024

NZ’s largest solar farm powers up

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Lodestone’s Kaitāia farm has more than 61,000 solar panels.
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A “new era” for energy in New Zealand is underway, with the country’s largest solar installation now generating electricity.

Lodestone Energy, NZ’s leading utility-scale solar energy company, began generating electricity at its farm in Kaitāia in late November. It is the country’s largest solar installation to date and the first solar farm in NZ to bid into the electricity market.

Since construction on Lodestone’s Kaitāia farm ramped up in early 2023, the project has employed more than 125 installers and technicians, many of them local to Kaitāia, and involved more that 22 equipment suppliers and service providers.

Lodestone Energy managing director Gary Holden said this marks a milestone for the company, respective partners and the country.

“This project ushers in a new era for energy in New Zealand. Kaitāia is the first solar farm at this scale and is a key step in helping New Zealand deliver on its climate goals. It is also crucially important to our customers who have contracted with us to meet their own sustainable energy objectives.”

Lodestone’s Phase 1 capital programme includes solar farms at Kaitāia, Edgecumbe, Waiotahe, Whitianga and Dargaville, with Kaitāia the first of Lodestone’s solar farms to start generating.

Lessons learnt in the construction of Kaitāia are now being applied in the planning and building of the future farms, with their second farm, Edgecumbe, expected to be commissioned early in 2024 and the third farm, Waiotahe, planned to be generating in late 2024.

Also, a first for NZ is the agri-voltaic design of the Kaitāia farm, which will maximise the production of electricity and maintain productive farming activity.

With more than 61,000 solar panels installed, the farm will generate 55 GWh of power annually. The power is earmarked for residential and commercial energy consumers, most notably the Warehouse Group, which has signed up all of its stores to Lodestone’s Phase 1 portfolio.

“We’re excited to provide New Zealanders with an alternative power option as we continue to play a key role in helping the country transition to a 100% renewable electricity market,” Holden said.

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