2/11/2022·1 min to read
Lodestone set to transform New Zealand’s renewable energy sector
Our Corporate team is proud to have acted for Lodestone Energy on the development of New Zealand’s largest ever solar project, which includes the creation of a series of utility-scale solar farms.
Partner Michael Sage led our team with input from Special Counsel Rob Macredie, Partner Josh Cairns, Partner Greg Allen, Senior Associate Edward Norman, and Senior Associate Edward Warren.
With around 360,000 solar panels to be installed on approximately 500 hectares of land, across five locations in Northland, the Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty, this transformative project will feed electricity into local distribution networks and Transpower's national grid and contribute towards New Zealand’s emissions reduction goals.
Reflecting on the deal, Michael Sage says: “It has been a privilege to support Lodestone Energy with this ground-breaking project, which has set the benchmark for solar energy generation in Aotearoa.
“For Lodestone to have succeeded with such an ambitious project against a backdrop of Covid lockdowns, global supply chain problems, construction sector constraints and a sliding NZ dollar, is a testament to the teamwork of Lodestone’s management, lenders and advisers and to the support of its investors” says Mr Sage.
Our varied work on this complex project included site acquisitions, a fully subscribed equity raise, corporate structuring, engineering, construction and major equipment procurement, grid connection contracts and non-recourse debt funding.
The solar farms release zero carbon emissions and create no pollution. They use bi-facial panels and an automated tracking system that allows the panels to follow the movement of the sun and produce electricity from both sides of the panels. There is sufficient spacing between each row of panels to allow grazing and other farm activities to continue at each site. The aggregate generating capacity of the 5 solar farms will be approximately 200MWdc.
The renewable energy sector in New Zealand is rapidly developing, with Transpower having received 176 new solar generation connection applications since 1 July 2020. Lodestone’s first mover advantage will position the company as a significant player in the renewable energy market, with the ability to expand into other sites and into grid-scale battery storage.
Construction of the first solar farm will commence in late 2022, with the first energy delivered approximately 12 months later. All 5 sites are expected to be commissioned by late 2024.