65MW solar PV and energy storage site granted planning consent in New Zealand

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The project’s solar element will comprise 140,000 single-axis tracking modules, 13 inverters, and a co-located battery energy storage system. Image: Ethical Power.

UK renewable energy developer Ethical Power has obtained planning consent for a 65MW solar PV development in Selwyn District, just outside Christchurch, New Zealand.

Named Buckleys Road Solar Farm, the project, being developed in partnership with KeaX Limited, features 104 hectares of solar arrays across a 111-hectare site. The operational generating capacity is 100GWh per year.

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The project’s solar element will comprise 140,000 single-axis tracking modules, 13 inverters, and a co-located battery energy storage system (BESS) of an undisclosed capacity.

Selwyn District Council granted consent for the project in May 2024.

The proposed Buckleys Road site is adjacent to the Brookside 66kV substation and has close access to the grid and Christchurch, a significant demand hotspot.  

Ethical Power and KeaX consulted Te Taumutu Runanga on preserving the land’s cultural values in preparation for the planning submission. The planning consent statement included a positive review of the cultural considerations with the design incorporating a Maori Wähi Taonga Site.

Campbell McMath, director of KeaX Limited, commented on the consent approval: “It is encouraging to see the council supporting new, and much needed, renewable energy projects in our area, realising the possibilities of land diversification.

“This supports Canterbury’s need for greater generation and provides farmers with a stable income. The partnership with Ethical Power has been an exciting step, allowing Ethical’s and Kea’s skills, knowledge and experience to complement each other.”

The review of the proposed development was positive. It assessed the impact of the solar development on the land and concluded that the project would not detract from the area’s rural character.

According to Ethical Power, this is due to the existing and proposed shelterbelts and landscaping included in the development plan. Currently used for cattle grazing, the land will continue to support primary land-based production through sheep grazing once the site becomes operational.

Nick Keeler, country manager for Ethical Power Development New Zealand, has led the scheme’s development in partnership with KeaX. Keeler said: “Buckleys Road will undoubtedly be one of the stellar solar projects in New Zealand. We’re delighted with the Council’s positive decision and keen to see the project go live as soon as possible. It’s been a pleasure working on this development with KeaX, combining Ethical Power’s international solar and BESS expertise with KeaX’s insights and local knowledge.”

Earlier this year, Aquila Clean Energy and Genesis Energy signed agreements to see over 200MW of new solar PV capacity in New Zealand.

As previously covered on PV Tech, Aquila Clean Energy closed a financing deal with Westpac New Zealand for a 180MW portfolio, whereas Genesis Energy and telecommunications company Spark New Zealand signed an agreement for a 63MW PV site.

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