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First development project sale in New Zealand for Ethical Power's JV

HES Aotearoa – a joint venture between Hive Energy, Ethical Power and Solar South West – has completed the sale of its first large-scale solar farm in New Zealand. Genesis Energy and its joint venture partner, FRV Australia, completed the purchase of the solar site near Lauriston, on 22 December 2022.

[Press release adapted from Hive Energy; originally published on 9th February 2023]

Located one hours drive south of Christchurch, the 93-hectare site will hold approximately 80,000 solar panels with a capacity of 52 MW and generate around 80 GWh of renewable electricity annually. That’s enough to power close to 10,000 houses.

The project is expected to create more than 50 jobs during the construction phase and employ up to three full time staff when operational, which is anticipated during 2024. The site is among the most advanced large scale solar generation sites in the country being fully consented, with advanced grid connection approvals and ready for the installation of panels to begin.

HES Aotearoa was formed in 2021 to deliver New Zealand’s premiere utility scale solar PV projects. As experienced international renewables developers, Hive Energy and Ethical Power collaborated with Solar South West for their local expertise to develop and design the Lauriston project. Both Hive and Ethical Power now have established presence and personnel in New Zealand to support further expansion in country.

Site developer, Hive Energy, has been working in New Zealand since 2021 when its Joint Venture HES Aotearoa was launched. Hive has 200 on-going green projects across 20 countries, with more than £1.3 billion ($NZ2.48bn) of capital deployed to date. The Hive Energy Group is recognised internationally as a trusted partner in the development, construction and operation of large-scale renewable energy projects. Hive is known for its innovative approach and market leading vision across both clean energy and circular economy industries.

“We are proud to be part of the expansion of renewable energy on the island. This is the first project sale for Hive and HES Aotearoa in New Zealand, and we hope that, once complete, the Lauriston solar park will support the country’s green energy transition and diversify the generation mix.” Giles Redpath, CEO of Hive Energy, said.

Genesis only announced its intention to look at solar generation in March 2021 and to have a significant site up and running so quickly under the joint venture underlines the company’s commitment to renewable generation. Interim Chief Executive Tracey Hickman said: “This is another milestone for our Future-gen strategy that is focused on developing 2,650 GWh of new renewable generation by 2030. Solar is a good addition to New Zealand’s generation mix and when it reaches scale it will play an important role in helping manage dry year risk when hydro levels are low, and the wind doesn’t blow.”

FRV Australia is one of the largest solar developers, asset owners and renewable energy platforms and the first company to deliver a project-financed, large-scale solar farm in Australia. FRV Australia will bring its international experience to complete the installation and commissioning of the Lauriston development.

FRV Australia CEO, Carlo Frigerio, said that the site ticked a lot of boxes and should be up and running relatively quickly: “FRV Australia and Genesis have developed a very promising pipeline of solar projects expected to be delivered in the coming years. Lauriston solar farm complements our own pipeline and is poised to be the first large scale solar farm reaching operational stage in the country.”

The solar farm will be connected to EA Networks’ Lauriston zone substation. EA Networks is a locally owned co-operative network company, that owns and operates Mid Canterbury’s electricity distribution network. The solar farm design specifically allows dual use of the land. It will produce the equivalent to approximately 13% of Electricity Ashburton’s annual energy needs from using just 0.03% of the land, and sheep will still be able to graze under the panels.