Google exec backs Helios Energy’s New Zealand solar pipeline


Senior Google executive Urs Hölzle-backed Helios Energy (Helios), a collaboration of United States and New Zealand developers, has this week committed to grid-scale solar developments in New Zealand.

In a statement, Helios said its developments would lower energy prices and cut carbon emissions. Helios director, Jason McDonald, said the company brings approximately 2 GW of renewable energy project experience (including over 50 utility solar projects up to 250 MW) to the New Zealand market.

McDonald said the company’s pipeline now meant it could no longer keep quiet, that it was the right time to “introduce ourselves.”

“We expect to be making site development announcements and resource consent applications over the coming months. We will also be looking to engage on regulatory settings that can support solar developments right across the country,” said McDonald.

The announcement comes in the same week as Lightsource bp signed a 50/50 partnership with New Zealand energy retailer Contact Energy. The pair also committing to pursue large-scale solar developments in New Zealand, the electricity from which Contact Energy would purchase through power purchase agreements (PPAs).

McDonald said it was encouraging that new entrants were entering the energy market in New Zealand and challenging established players, but development experience is vital.

“While solar is an incredible opportunity to generate large volumes of clean, renewable energy,” McDonald continued, “it needs to be done at genuine scale. Additionally, competitively financing large projects can be challenging, and responsible solar development requires long-term commitment to community partnerships.”

McDonald said Helios is proud to have one of the world’s leading renewable energy strategists as an investor, namely Google’s Urs Hölzle, who made a private investment of Series A capital in Helios and its solar development pipeline in New Zealand.

Hölzle is one of the leading forces inside Google for its global 24/7 carbon-free by 2030 commitment. 24/7 matching quantifies energy usage by the hour rather than annually and represents the next stage of emissions reduction and grid cleaning.

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