Lodestone Energy starts generating power at NZ’s first utility-scale solar farm

Solar farm in Kaitaia

A major renewable energy milestone was reached in November this year, when Lodestone Energy, New Zealand’s leading utility-scale solar energy company, started generating electricity at its farm in Kaitaia – the country’s largest solar installation to date and the first solar farm in New Zealand to bid into the electricity market.

“We’re excited to provide New Zealanders with an alternative power option, as we continue to play a key role in helping the country transition to a 100% renewable electricity market.”

Since construction on Lodestone’s Kaitaia farm ramped up in early 2023, the project has employed more than 125 installers and technicians, many of them local to Kaitaia, and involved more than 22 equipment suppliers and service providers.

Gary Holden, Managing Director of Lodestone Energy, says this marks an incredible milestone for the company, respective partners and the nation.

“This project ushers in a new era for energy in New Zealand. Kaitaia is the first solar farm at this scale and is a key step in helping New Zealand deliver on its climate goals. It is also crucially important to our customers who have contracted with us to meet their own sustainable energy objectives.”

Lodestone’s phase one capital program includes solar farms at Kaitaia, Edgecumbe, Waiotahe, Whitianga and Dargaville, with Kaitaia the first of Lodestone’s solar farms to start generating.

Lessons learned in the construction of Kaitaia are now being applied in the planning and building of the future farms, with their second farm Edgecumbe expected to be commissioned early in 2024, and the third farm Waiotahe planned to be generating in late 2024.

Also, a first for New Zealand is the agri-voltaic design of the Kaitaia farm which will maximise the production of electricity and maintain productive farming activity.

With more than 61,000 solar panels installed, the farm will generate 55 GWh of power annually and is earmarked for residential and commercial energy consumers; most notably The Warehouse Group which has signed up all of their stores to Lodestone’s phase 1 portfolio.

“We’re excited to provide New Zealanders with an alternative power option, as we continue to play a key role in helping the country transition to a 100% renewable electricity market,” Holden added.

Lodestone Energy Limited was New Zealand’s first utility-scale solar generation company.  It was founded in 2019 with a vision to help the national effort to decarbonise the energy sector. Lodestone Energy aims to contribute a substantial amount of solar production to the country’s electricity market and be the leader in bringing solar-based energy contracts to customers.

The company has an expert team with a long history in the electricity market, including developing generation projects in New Zealand, Canada, the United States and Australia, as well as managing integrated generation, transmission, distribution and retail operations.

© Waterford Press Ltd 2023 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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