New Zealand: Aquila and Genesis Energy in new solar development partnerships

CE of FRV Australia Carlo Frigerio and CE of Genesis Energy Malcolm Johns at the sod-turning ceremony. Image: Genesis Energy

Over 200MW of new solar PV capacity will be brought online in New Zealand following two new partnerships established in the last week.

The larger of the two sees Aquila Clean Energy close a financing deal with Westpac New Zealand for a 180MW portfolio. The other is between New Zealand power company Genesis Energy and telecommunications company Spark New Zealand for a 63MW PV site.

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Aquila Clean Energy closes 180MW portfolio financing

Singapore-headquartered clean energy platform Aquila Clean Energy has secured debt financing from Westpac New Zealand for a 180MW portfolio of four PV plants. Aquila will partner with Far North Solar Farm, a New Zealand renewables project developer, to realise the sites.

The sum of the financing was not disclosed. As an entirely renewable energy-based loan, Westpac said that the loan is eligible for its ‘Sustainable Lending Programme’.

The 20.8MWp Pukenui Solar Farm, north of Kaitaia, is the first project in the portfolio to commence construction. It is expected to be online in 2025. The remaining three projects, which have yet to be announced, will begin construction at a later date.

Aquila said that Photon Energy Group, the Amsterdam-headquartered renewables company, will serve as both the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor and the operations and maintenance (O&M) contractor for the first two years of the Pukenui project’s life.

Alexander Lenz, CEO of Aquila Clean Energy APAC said the deal was “the first overseas clean energy platform outside of Australia to reach portfolio financial close on a fully merchant and non-recourse basis in Aotearoa New Zealand. Achieving this is testament to the quality we will be delivering in the country. Our ambition is to continue to support the country’s 100% renewables target to the benefit of all stakeholders involved, one project at a time.”

CEO of Far North Solar Farm, John Telfer, said that the partnership with Aquila will ultimately seek to develop 1.4GW of solar PV at 11 sites across New Zealand.

The power to be produced at the project is currently open to power purchase agreement (PPA) opportunities, Aquila said.  

Genesis and Spark in 63MW deal      

Kiwi power company Genesis Energy also signed a PPA with telecommunications company Spark New Zealand this week to support the development of the 63MW Lauriston solar farm.

Located in the Lauriston region of the south island, Genesis began construction on the project last month in conjunction with its joint venture partner FRV Australia, an international renewables company.  

Once operational, the project will fulfil around 60% of Spark’s electricity demand and will form the basis of other potential collaborations on projects to enable the company to reach 100% renewable energy use and, simultaneously, to achieve Genesis’ stated goal of 95% renewable energy generation by 2035.

“Electricity accounts for 80% of Spark’s scope 1 and 2 emissions, and with our investment in data centres and 5G infrastructure accelerating we expect our electricity use to increase, offsetting savings from our network simplification and energy efficiency initiatives,” said Spark CEO Jolie Hodson.

Genesis CEO Malcolm Johns said: “For New Zealand to reach net zero 2050 the country’s energy must become 60% electric, 95% renewable and available 100% of the time. Solar has a clear role to play in this transition, and Lauriston is the first stage of the joint venture commitment to build 500MW of solar capacity throughout New Zealand.”

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