Canterbury site for NZ’s largest solar farm

FRV Australia and its joint venture partner Genesis Energy, have started construction of the largest solar farm in New Zealand, an hour’s drive from Christchurch, at Lauriston on the Canterbury Plains.

Once operational, by the end of 2024 the 63 MW solar farm will power the equivalent of nearly 13,000 houses.

The joint venture partners are also assessing three North Island sites with a combined capacity of up to 400 MW.

The $104 million Lauriston plant is on a 93-hectare site, and is expected to create more than 50 jobs during the construction phase, along with having three full-time staff when operational.

The joint venture also signed a 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Genesis Energy which will take all the renewable energy from the site.

A sod-turning ceremony on site on 23 April saw Genesis Chief Executive Malcolm Johns and FRV Australia CEO Carlo Frigerio launch construction.

Also in attendance were Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown, the Chief Executive of EA Networks, Onno Mulder, and the General Manager of construction partner BEON, Kieren Lewis.

Malcolm Johns describes the start of construction as an important milestone for the joint venture and for the country, saying for New Zealand to reach net zero 2050, the country’s energy must become 60% electric, 95% renewable, and available 100% of the time.

“Solar has a clear role to play in this transition, and Lauriston is the first stage of the joint venture commitment to build 500 MW of solar capacity throughout New Zealand,” Malcolm adds.

Carlo says FRV Australia and Genesis have worked together to achieve what is a new era with Lauriston, with Genesis focusing on moving to around 95% renewable generation by 2035. Genesis plans to become net zero by 2040.

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