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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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100,000 houses powered by Wairarapa sun

With hundreds of hectares in the region spotlighted for potential solar farm developments, over 100,000 houses locally and nationally may be recipients of renewable energy in the near future.

Five solar farm projects in Wairarapa – one already with granted resource consent – are in various stages of consultation and consent application.

Transpower has suggested transmission infrastructure upgrades will be in order should all projects proceed.

A 235-hectare solar farm with the capacity to provide power to 40,000 homes in the pipeline for Greytown will service local electricity needs first, according to its developer Far North Solar Farm.

Far North Solar Farm communications and engagement lead Greg Hay said while there were no current plans for Battery Energy Storage Systems [BESS], this could be added at a later date.

“It is expected that the solar farm will cover all daytime power requirements for Greytown and the surrounding region for the majority of the year,” Hay said.

“Power not consumed at Greytown will flow north to Masterton and south to Wellington, with the expectation that excess power will tend to head south.”

Another solar farm is floated for Greytown by Helios, but due to a current review being completed on the project, project specifications are unconfirmed.

However, project spokesperson Jonathan Hill said that the viability of BESS was being explored as part of project revision.

A third major project fronted by UK developer Harmony Energy in Carterton could power 24,000 houses, but commercial director Pete Grogan said that locations receiving this would vary, depending on need.

“The electricity produced will flow into the transmission network, but it will be distributed locally if needed,” Grogan said.

“If not needed locally, it will be transmitted to where it is needed.”

He said that this project would not require BESS to be operational.

A different solar farm in Waingawa would generate enough power to supply 35,000 homes according to developer New Zealand Clean Energy.

A spokesperson for New Zealand Clean Energy said the proposed development would include BESS on site.

She said that the development would connect to the Masterton Substation, which is part of the Transpower network, and that after facilitating this connection, Light Years Solar would not dictate where the energy would go.

“We will have no control as to what happens with the energy once it enters that network, so we cannot answer where the houses powered would be or if local supply would be prioritised.”

She recommended checking with Transpower on how electricity distribution was managed.

Another developer Lightyears Solar – which has been granted resource consent for a small solar farm in Carterton – says its development will power 1500 local houses once built.

In total, these projects have the potential to supply power to over 100,000 houses, an estimate that doesn’t include the houses that would receive power from the Helios development.

Transpower general manager strategy and customer Chantelle Bramley confirmed they were aware of several grid-scale solar projects proposed in the Wairarapa region, which are at various stages of development.

She said that with minor upgrades to the Greytown substation, transmission assets in Wairarapa could accommodate an additional 200 to 300 MW of generation.

“The total capacity of proposed new solar generation does exceed this amount, so if all the proposed projects were to be built, further grid upgrades or the addition of battery storage in the region would be needed to ensure the grid can transmit all the power generated.”

As some of the proposed solar farms would connect to the Greytown substation, Bramley said it would require upgrades to meet these additional demands.

She said these upgrades, and any new transmission assets required for the projects, would be funded by the developers.

Noting that at least one of the solar farms proposed would connect directly to Powerco’s local, low-voltage electricity network, Bramley said the others would connect to Transpower’s national, high-voltage electricity network.

“This will increase the percentage of renewable generation injected directly into your local network,” Bramley said.

“The overall percentage of renewable generation used in New Zealand will increase if even one of these solar farms is commissioned.”

When it came to how these developments might impact the wholesale price of electricity, Bramley said that ultimately, the market dictates the price.

“Transpower operates the market, but it is generators that set the price they are willing to supply electricity at throughout the day,” Bramley said.

“We then select the most efficient combination of offers to meet demand.

“Typically, renewable generation is priced lower in the market, so additional renewables are expected to create downward pressures on prices.”

She noted that solar and wind electricity generation projects without battery storage can only inject generation into power networks when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, as there is no capacity for excess electricity to be stored for later injection.

1 COMMENT

  1. Sounds wonderful 😊 wairarapa the solar power capital of New Zealand 🇳🇿 😀. What a waste of good farmland and we could of had hydropower millions spent on it But not for us says the last government. Never mind just like EVs solar and turbines they are a dream 😍 and a massive cost to the taxpayers.

Comments are closed.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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