Two new North Island solar power projects have been added to New Zealand’s energy mix.
Lodestone Energy has started generating electricity at its farm in Kaitaia - the country’s largest solar installation to date and the first solar facility to bid into the electricity market.
Construction of the farm started in early 2023.
Lodestone managing director Gary Holden said the project would usher in a new era for energy in New Zealand.
“Kaitaia is the first solar farm at this scale and is a key step in helping New Zealand deliver on its climate goals,” he said.
Phase one of Lodestone’s capital programme includes solar farms at Kaitaia, Edgecumbe, Waiotahe, Whitianga and Dargaville.
Edgecumbe is expected to be commissioned early in 2024 and Waiotahe late in the same year.
With more than 61,000 solar panels installed, the Kaitaia farm will generate 55 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power annually.
Power from the project is earmarked for residential and commercial energy consumers, most notably The Warehouse Group, Lodestone said.
Lodestone Energy - the country’s first utility-scale solar generation company - is wholly New Zealand-owned.
Companies office records show Holden’s Magnetite Energy Investments has a 31 per cent stake, with entrepreneur and investor Guy Haddleton owning 20 per cent.
The company was founded in 2019.
Meanwhile, Eastland Generation said it had completed its solar facility Te Ihi o te Rā, which generates about 7300MW annually - enough to power 1000 homes.
Chief executive Alice Pettigrew said with sites secured in Wairoa and Uawa, Eastland Generation was geared to leverage the untapped solar potential in these areas.
Energy generated by its new facility, near Gisborne, would feed into the Firstlight Network grid, Eastland said.
Earlier this month, the community trust-owned Eastland Group announced a successful capital raise, via the sale of a 50 per cent interest in Eastland Generation to Japan’s Obayashi Corporation.
The transaction underpinned an enterprise valuation for Eastland Generation in excess of $500m.
Jamie Gray is an Auckland-based journalist, covering the financial markets and the primary sector. He joined the Herald in 2011.