Lodestone links with UK companies to progress NZ solar strategy


Solar company Lodestone Energy has finalised a development partnership with new joint venture HES Aotearoa (HESA) to develop a pipeline of nine large-scale solar farms across New Zealand’s North and South islands.

HESA was formed by United Kingdom-headquartered companies Hive Energy, Ethical Power and Solar South West to develop solar assets in New Zealand. The joint venture has announced plans to develop a pipeline of nearly 350 MW of utility scale PV assets across the country’s North and South islands.

Lodestone, which is already building a portfolio of 198 MW across PV projects at Kaitaia, Edgecumbe, Waiotahe, Whitianga and Dargaville on the nation’s North Island, said the HESA developments are part of the next phase of its solar farm program.

Gary Holden, Managing Director of Lodestone, said the company had recently inked a conditional debt facility with ANZ to support its “mission of bringing next-generation renewable energy across the country at a scale New Zealand hasn’t seen before.”

“Through new capital partnerships, including a $250 million (USD 148 million) debt facility from ANZ, Lodestone will have the funding to support the significant growth of solar generation,” he said.

“The expansion puts us one step closer to bringing grid-scale solar to customers in all regions of Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Lodestone said the locations of the nine new solar farms included in the HESA arrangement will be revealed in the coming months.

Hive has however provided details about the capacity and locations of at least some of the proposed projects. On its website, Hive outlines plans for a 50 MW solar farm at Helensville south of Auckland on the North Island, a 20 MW project at Bunnythorpe near Wellington, and a 14 MW project at Te Toke. It also lists a 24 MW solar farm to be built at Clandeboye near Canterbury on the South Island.

While Lodestone did not confirm details about the individual projects, it said once constructed the HESA sites will provide more than 500 GWh in additional solar generation for New Zealand.

As part of the HESA arrangement, Lodestone has signed on Ethical Power New Zealand as the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) partner for the solar developments in the partnership.

Ethical Power New Zealand Managing Director Matt Rowe said the new solar farms, which are at “various stages of development”, will support the country’s push towards a 100% renewable electricity grid.

New Zealand’s electricity grid already runs on about 82% renewable electricity thanks mostly to a large-scale hydroelectric network but the government is aiming to increase that level to 100% by the end of the decade.

“The delivery of these new solar farms will bring New Zealand significantly closer to meeting the country’s goal of decarbonisation,” Rowe said.

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