Lodestone Energy begins construction

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Lodestone Energy, New Zealand’s leading utility-scale solar energy company, held a ground-breaking ceremony in December in Waiotahe to mark the start of construction of its third and largest utility-scale solar farm.

The 30MW farm bordering the Waiotahe River in the Ōpōtiki District will generate 69 GWh of power annually from over 70,000 solar panels – enough to supply more than 9,500 of Aotearoa’s homes and small businesses.

Lodestone will again be implementing an agri-voltaic design at the Waiotahe farm, maximising the generation of electricity while maintaining productive farming activity. Working with local iwi, Lodestone has also created a native planting plan that provides for a build that blends in with the landscape.

Gary Holden, Managing Director of Lodestone Energy, says this is another step in the company’s vision of providing new renewable energy for customers across New Zealand.

The Waiotahe solar farm is earmarked for residential and commercial energy consumers; most notably The Warehouse Group which has signed up all its stores to Lodestone’s phase 1 portfolio.

With the recent commissioning of its first utility scale solar farm in Kaitaia and its Edgecumbe farm due for completion in early 2024, Lodestone has been building local contracting and in-house capability to deliver its portfolio of solar farms.

Working closely with local iwi and stakeholders, as well as construction partners, Infratec and New Energy by Drillco, Lodestone is committed to delivering for the local community, bringing them employment opportunities in the region.

“At our Edgecumbe solar farm we were really pleased to be able to recruit approximately 80% of our mechanical team locally and we are looking to replicate this for our Waiotahe project. Some of the team from our Edgecumbe project are also being brought on to help with construction at Waiotahe as we want to leverage their skills and experiences to help deliver this project,” says Holden.

Waiotahe is Lodestone’s third utility-scale solar farm in its phase 1 capital programme with Kaitaia generating and Edgecumbe under construction. Whitianga and Dargaville are planned for construction in 2024 and 2025. Phase 1 projects are financed by Westpac New Zealand, IFM and NZGIF.

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