Government announced their plan this week to continue to take the Lake Onslow power project forward by developing a business case for a pumped hydro scheme at Lake Onslow in a remote part of Central Otago. Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods has indicated that Government will also examine the viability of an alternative, “multi-technology” plan to achieve the same goals as the project nicknamed the battery lake.

Around 82% of electricity generated in New Zealand is renewable energy, much of which comes from hydropower. Not only does the shortfall leave the country exposed to burning of fossil fuels to bridge the gap in dry years, but with increased demand for electricity on the horizon – to support electrification of cars, public transport and businesses and more - greater sources of renewable energy will be needed. Climate change is becoming a more prominent concern for many New Zealanders, particularly after the extreme weather events over the summer. Projects that support the development of alternative sources of renewable energy will become all the more critical if we are to achieve New Zealand’s net zero ambition.

NZPI conference sponsor 4Sight – Part of SLR has been involved in one of the more significant renewable energy projects in recent times. 4Sight has worked with a key client to help them to gain consent to develop New Zealand’s largest solar farm, at 147-megawatt capacity, in Te Aroha Waikato.

The project involves the installation of 329,004 monocrystalline solar panels on specially designed mounting structures, all laid out in rows in a rural setting. The solar farm still allows for ongoing farming of the land, with sheep grazing around the panels. The project also includes the restoration and creation of approximately 7.2ha of wetland area, with new boardwalks for visitors and schools, the restoration of riparian areas and biodiversity corridors, and boundary planting over a 12ha area. On an annual basis, the solar farm will supply the equivalent electricity needs of about 30,000 houses. That’s about the size of Hamilton City.

4Sight has worked on this project since 2019, to scope the site, consult with iwi, investigate ecology, review landscape impacts, assess soil contamination and ultimately prepare the application for consent. The application was processed via the Fast Track legislation developed during the height of the pandemic, to speed up consenting for this major infrastructure project.  4Sight will be introducing the Raise the Stakes Breakout Session at NZPIC23 on Climate Change.

The Main Divide, one of ten exciting field trips at NZPI conference, will include a visit to Christchurch Airport. Delegates will have the opportunity to see Kowhai Park, a 400ha site beside the runways that will be developed in future for renewable energy projects including solar. Registrations for this field trip are still OPEN.

Another of our NZPIC23 sponsors is Endless Energy, a supplier of residential and commercial solar energy solutions helping to solve more of the renewable energy puzzle. Endless Energy believe that here in NZ, our climate and predicted sunlight hours present a unique opportunity to be at the global forefront of renewable electric power. The company first founded in Christchurch develop photo-voltaic systems that can be connected to the grid but also provide off grid solutions. They suggest that off-grid solutions may be attractive to those in remote locations or use significant amounts of power such as large commercial / industrial operations. An important initiative for the future.

Endless Energy will be exhibiting at the NZPI Conference on 19-21 April in the Te Pae Convention Centre in Ōtautahi / Christchurch.