Lightyears lands new funds for trio of community-scale solar farms


Lightyears Solar said the new capital will help ramp up the pace of its development program with the equity to help fund the construction of three solar farms totaling 18 MW of generation capacity in the Wairarapa and Canterbury regions on New Zealand’s North and South islands respectively.

Site works have already commenced on the 4.5 MW Waingawa Solar Farm being developed north of Carterton in the Wairarapa and the 7.2 MW Ashburton Solar Farm in Canterbury. Both facilities are expected to be online in October 2024.

Construction of the 6 MW Rangiora Solar Farm in Canterbury is scheduled to begin in the later part of 2024, with commissioning expected in early 2025.

The trio of solar farms will be capable of generating enough clean energy to power nearly 4,000 New Zealand homes.

Lightyears co-founder and Development Manager Matt Shanks said the new solar farms complement the 2.4 MW Waiuku Solar Farm near Auckland which commenced operations in October 2023,

“Along with our already operational Waiuku Solar Farm, Lightyears will have a 20 MW portfolio of solar farm assets on completion of these projects, and we have 60 MW of projects commencing construction in 2025,” he said.

Shanks said in addition to supporting the construction of the new solar farms, the new equity will allow Lightyears to expand and grow in other areas, including its engineering and construction arm.

The capital raise was led by electricity retailers Hoku Group and Prime Energy which has already has a long-term agreement in place to purchase the power produced from the Waiuku Solar Farm.

Prime Energy Chief Executive Michael Skates said the opportunity to invest in Lightyears was an incredibly attractive one for the Auckland-based retailer.

“The New Zealand electricity market desperately needs to increase its renewable generation capacity to be able to decarbonise the country and Lightyears Solar are the tip of the spear in doing so, via their unique, community-scale farms,” he said.

“The relationship between Lightyears Solar and Prime Energy moves us from wanting and encouraging increased renewable energy and lower emissions in New Zealand to being a core part of the movement delivering that change.”

Lightyears Solar also has a $25 million debt facility from New Zealand Green Investment Finance (NZGIF), to help finance project construction and operation.

Shanks said the continued investment is a real vote of confidence in the company and demonstrates that people are becoming more confident investing in renewable energy.

“We’re really grateful to our investors for having faith in us and we’re looking forward to taking these projects through to operational stage this year,” he said.

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