Todd proposes 400 MW solar park for New Zealand’s North Island – pv magazine International

New Zealand’s utility scale solar PV market is set for a momentous shift with energy company Todd Generation planning to establish a 400MW solar farm at Rangitāiki on the North Island .

Todd Generation, through its subsidiary Nova Energy, plans to build what would be New Zealand’s largest solar farm on a 1,022-hectare dairy farm on the North Island, but the developer must first overcome a final hurdle.

After filing land use permits with Taupō District Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council earlier this year seeking permission to convert farmland into a solar installation, Todd Generation will make its claim heard. by an Independent Resource Clearance Commissioner on Wednesday.

Todd Generation said, subject to a final investment decision to be made after the permitting process, that it plans to “launch the first 150MW stage in 2023, with operations commencing approximately 18 months later” .

The approximately $530 million (NZ$600 million) project would include around 900,000 solar panels laid out at the 1,022-hectare Rangitāiki site, about 35 kilometers southeast of Taupō. The company is also applying for permission to build 98 centralized inverters, a switchyard and transmission lines to connect the project to the national grid.

The Taupō solar farm is to be built in stages, with all three phases to be completed and the facility fully operational by the last quarter of 2027.

Todd Generation said that when completed, the project will generate around 650,000 MWh of clean energy per year, contributing to an increase of around 1% in New Zealand’s renewable electricity generation capacity, enough to meet the electricity needs of approximately 100,000 homes.

“The Rangitāiki Solar Power Plant represents a significant investment in New Zealand’s future renewable energy supply,” the company said.

Todd Generation’s Director of Projects and Developments, Christopher Pye, said the proposed Taupō project will make a significant contribution to the development of large-scale solar capacity in New Zealand and ensure the diversification of the country’s renewable electricity portfolio. .

“Solar generation on a significant scale does not yet exist in New Zealand,” he said. “However, the deployment is well demonstrated overseas and decades of experience now exist in the sector.

“New Zealand is now well placed to develop and operate high quality solar power generation assets, drawing in particular on more than 10 years of experience in neighboring Australia.”

The 2.1 MW Kapuni Solar Power Plant in South Taranaki is New Zealand’s largest operating solar farm.

Image: Sunergise

While solar power currently accounts for less than 0.5% of electricity generation in New Zealand, the Climate Change Commission has estimated that the technology will need to grow to around 19GW and contribute 20% of supply. electricity by 2050 for New Zealand to meet its net needs. -zero carbon objectives.

The Taupō project would be by far the largest solar farm in New Zealand. It dwarfs the country’s largest existing solar farm, the 2.1MW Kapuni plant in Taranaki, which is operated by Nova Energy and is more than double the capacity of a 150MW farm being built in India. Christchurch Airport.

The Taupō project is one of the few large-scale solar farm projects in the pipeline across the country.

In April, Helios Energy, formed by a group of American and New Zealand entrepreneurs, announced that it would pursue grid-scale solar developments in New Zealand.

This announcement was followed by the New Zealand association of Contact Energy with Lightsource bp, the renewable energy arm of the British company BP, to announce its intention to develop a large-scale solar portfolio.

A month later, German investment manager Aquila Capital teamed up with Auckland-based renewable energy developer Far North Solar Farm (FNSF) to develop an estimated $1 billion suite of large-scale solar PV projects. in the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

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Lynn A. Saleh