With one solar farm in Wairarapa already granted and four other projects in various stages of the consent process, the region’s landscape may be flush with solar panels in the years to come.
Combining all potential developments, 733,660 solar panels will cover 615 hectares of land spanning South Wairarapa, Carterton and Masterton.
This does not include the land and amount of solar panels allocated to a Helios development, specifications for which are currently under review.
The largest project – a 235-hectare project steered by developer Far North Solar Farm – would see a solar farm with 321,160 panels on Moroa Rd in Greytown. The resource consent application for this consent was submitted to the South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] last year and promptly referred to the Environment Court, which will facilitate a hearing later this year.
Once built, this solar farm would produce enough energy to power about 40,000 homes. Another large project fronted by Helios has been floated for Greytown on Bidwills Cutting Rd.
Helios Energy has engaged in community consultation about this project but has not yet submitted a resource consent application. Helios spokesperson Jonathan Hill said that all aspects of the project, including land, capacity and configuration, had been subject to review during the past year.
“We will provide an update in line with the revised project before filing the resource consent application.”
Due to this review process, Hill could not confirm the number of panels, hectares committed to the development, or houses which the development would be able to power.
A third major project is being pitched by UK-based developer Harmony Energy, which has submitted a resource consent application for a 218-hectare solar farm along Hughes Line and Perrys Rd in Carterton.
This application for a 240,000-panel development is being processed through the Environmental Protection Authority under its fast-track consenting legislation.
Harmony Energy commercial director Pete Grogan said that if granted, the solar farm would generate enough electricity to power 24,000 houses but that the locations receiving this would vary depending on local and national needs.
Subject to consent, Grogan said the project [as well as two other solar farm applications by Harmony Energy for developments in Marton and Opunake, Taranaki] would commence construction in December this year.
The fourth project pitched for Wairarapa is fronted by developer New Zealand Clean Energy [NZCE] and would cover a 150-hectare site in Waingawa, south of Masterton.
According to online plans, this development would include roughly 166,000 solar panels on 138 hectares of the site.
A spokesperson for NZCE said that the application was scheduled to be lodged with Carterton District Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council by last month, but this had been slightly delayed.
“We’ve had to push that back to the end of this month while we iron out a few details and allow a bit more time for the consultation of relevant parties.”
The fifth project being built in the region is the smallest in scale, and the only solar farm to yet have resource consent granted.
The 12-hectare solar farm on Norfolk Rd in Carterton, steered by developer Light Years Solar, contains 6,500 panels [although the consent allows for up to 10,380] and, once built, will generate enough electricity to power 1500 local houses.
A spokesperson said that the site has had Geotech testing completed, and equipment should arrive on site in April.