In what is proving a big week for New Zealand solar, Lightsource bp (LBP), the renewables arm of Britain-based BP is expanding into its 18th market after partnering with New Zealand’s Contact Energy (Contact) to pursue a large-scale solar portfolio of up to 380,000 MWh of annual generation in the land of the long white cloud by 2026.
The 50/50 partnership will see the pair construct multiple grid-scale solar projects from which Contact will purchase the solar electricity via a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA).
Contact CEO Mike Fuge said the joint venture aligned with Contact’s decarbonisation strategy. “Our strategy lays out a path for Contact to decarbonise New Zealand, and a critical aspect of this is our commitment to help meet the massive, anticipated demand for renewable electricity.”
“We’re very pleased to be joining forces with Lightsource bp” Fuge continued, “their team has deep solar development expertise and a hugely impressive track record.”
Lightsource bp’s Australia and New Zealand Country Manager Adam Pegg said the company was excited to announce its entry into the New Zealand market through this exclusive partnership.
“Grid-scale solar generation is a natural fit for New Zealand’s current generation mix and this partnership sees an experienced and highly-regarded New Zealand generator and retailer join forces with our global solar expertise to create cost=competitive and reliable solar power.”
The entry into its 18th market is part of Lightsource bp’s ambition to develop 25 GW of global solar power projects by 2025. Pegg described this partnership as a step in that journey.
“Our solar farms will create significant jobs and investment into regional New Zealand communities and businesses,” continued Fuge. “The technology around grid-scale solar generation has improved significantly and we’re looking forward to bringing these development opportunities to life with the Lightsource bp team.”
The announcement comes in the same week as senior Google executive Urs Hölzle-backed Helios Energy committed to grid-scale solar developments in New Zealand.
Contact and Lightsource bp said they expected to announce details of their first potential development site in coming months, and plan to begin electricity generation by 2024.
New Zealand’s biggest solar array is currently under construction. The 220-hectare solar array capable of generating 150 MW of solar energy is to be situated adjacent to the runways of Christchurch Airport and known as Kōwhai Park.
This week also saw Lightsource bp Australia (LBPA) announce plans for a 400 MW(DC) solar farm and co-located battery energy storage system (BESS) in Gundary, 13 kilometres south of Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia.
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