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Second solar farm for Mid Canty

Second solar farm for Mid Canty

Renewable energy is surging ahead in Mid Canterbury, with a second solar power generation site planned near Mount Somers.

Solar power generation company Lodestone Energy plans to diversify its solar supply with three new solar sites in the wider Canterbury area - including one on Tramway Road near Mount Somers.

The announcement of the Mount Somers site comes as the early stages of construction kick off on Mid Canterbury's first large-scale solar farm in Lauriston - a joint venture between Genesis Energy and FRV Australia

Lodestone Energy has partnered with HES Aotearoa Limited, a joint venture between three international energy generation companies, to develop the three sites in Canterbury and a further six across New Zealand.

HES Aotearoa has the required consents from the Ashburton District Council and Environment Canterbury to convert a 35-hectare area of relatively unproductive farmland to solar power generation, with sheep grazing under the solar panels.

Lodestone customer general manager Sarah McHardy said construction on the Mount Somers farm is planned to start in the latter part of this year.

McHardy said once live, the farm would connect to the Mount Somers substation and feed into the local Ashburton power network.

She expected it would roughly a year from start of construction to supplying power to the grid.

The other two Canterbury sites are in Dunsandel and Clandeboye near Temuka.

The 100-hectare block Dunsandel leased to HES Aotearoa will produce 80 gwh per year and would also combine solar generation with farming activity for a more efficient use of the land.

The Canterbury farms will be partly-funded by a $250-million debt facility. They will supply a combined 150 GWh per year once operational.

Lodestone Energy has one live solar power site at Kaitaia that started generating electricity in late 2023, a second site in Edgecumbe close to completion, and third site in Waiotahe in the early stages of construction.

Construction on two further North Island sites in Whitianga and Dargaville is due to start this year.

By Sharon Davis