Harmony syncs with First Renewables on 150 MW NZ solar farm


Harmony Energy has announced a joint venture agreement with First Renewables, the clean energy subsidiary of gas-focused Clarus (formerly Firstgas Group), to develop and own the 150 MW Tauhei Solar Farm to be built in the Waikato region on New Zealand’s North Island.

The project, to be built on a 182-hectare site near Te Aroha about 140 kilometres south of Auckland, will comprise approximately 330,000 solar panels capable of generating more than 270 GWh of clean energy per year, enough to supply the equivalent of approximately 35,000 New Zealand homes.

The joint venture marks a new direction for Clarus, one of New Zealand’s largest energy groups with transmission, distribution, supply and storage operations that service nearly half a million homes and businesses.

Clarus General Manager of Future Fuels, James Irvine, said the development of the Tauhei Solar Farm is an important milestone for the company and is in line with its commitment to help drive the decarbonisation of New Zealand’s energy system.

“Utility-scale solar generation presents a significant, complimentary, and largely untapped source of renewable energy in New Zealand, as proven in many markets overseas,” he said.

“This project is an opportunity for us to build on our desire to deliver renewable energy to meet the needs of energy consumers.”

A final investment decision on the Tauhei Solar Farm, which secured development approval in 2022 under fast-track consenting legislation introduced to speed up infrastructure development, is expected later this year, pending regulatory approvals.

Construction is also expected to commence this year with Harmony Energy Director Pete Grogan saying the project will enhance New Zealand’s energy security and help mitigate the negative impact of climate change.

“It will also create opportunities for local businesses, employment and significant biodiversity gains, as well as being able to generate energy alongside continued farming production,” he said.

The project is expected to be the largest solar farm in New Zealand when it comes online in 2026, eclipsing the largest operational solar farm in the country, the 39.4 MW Kaitaia Solar Farm which started exporting late last year. It will also be larger than the 47 MW Lauriston Solar Farm being developed on New Zealand’s South Island by Genesis Energy and renewables partner FRV Australia.

Other large-scale solar projects in the pipeline include Lightsource bp and New Zealand energy giant Contract Energy’s plans to develop a 150 MW solar project at the Christchurch Airport while energy company Todd Generation has announced plans to establish a 400 MW solar farm at Rangitāiki on the North Island.

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