Utility scale solar is a relatively new industry in New Zealand (largest installed solar system is currently 2.1MWp)– our grid is already 85% renewable from hydro and geothermal, so there hasn’t been a significant push to decarbonise further in the past, but that has all changed in the last 12-18 months. Every week there are announcements about new projects being developed, so it’s going to be an exciting, but challenging, road ahead.
We are currently preparing for our first build – a 51MWp tracking system project in the South Island of New Zealand. This exciting project in Lauriston, South Canterbury is one of the most developed projects in New Zealand, and the rights are currently owned by our JV, HES Aotearoa. I’m currently interviewing for roles in project management and site management, and building a supply chain. We hope to begin building in early 2023.
At the start of May I travelled to the UK to meet the Ethical Power team face to face, and also see first-hand the projects we had undertaken there. Exeter is 18,904 km (11,746 miles) from Auckland, New Zealand, so needless to say, my trip started with a monster journey. In fact it was 36 hours door to door. The morning after I arrived I got to meet the wider team at the Hive day – great to hear about everything that the group is up too, even if I was starting to fade from jet lag in the afternoon.
During my time I visited a number of Ethical Power’s solar farms in the South of England, and got to spend time with many of the people that make it all happen. When you work on the other side of the world, there is nothing like being able to shake your colleague’s hand and share a laugh together. I also had some time in the London office, and it was amazing to be back in that great city – I’d lived there for 7 years up until 2012, but hadn’t been back since. Thanks to everyone who dedicated time to either organise me, drive me, eat with me, talk me through their role, or just try to understand my strange accent.
As I mentioned above, with all the activity happening in the New Zealand market, it’s going to be an exciting part of Ethical Power’s expansion, and I’m really looking forward to it.