Tairāwhiti’s first solar power plant is one step closer, with an application for resource consent lodged with Gisborne
District Council this week after 12 months of development work.
Gisborne Airport is the proposed location for the 5MW plant, which is being developed by Eastland Group in partnership
with Infratec NZ Limited.
Significant industrial investment into Tairāwhiti, such as wood processing, the growth in new homes and businesses, and
the forecast uptake in electric vehicles, are all predicted to place added demands on the local power supply.
“This is part of Eastland Group’s long-term plan to bring greater energy capacity and resilience to Tairāwhiti, and help
meet the increasing demand for power in a sustainable way,” said Chief Operating Officer Energy Alice Pettigrew.
“It will also help grow in-region capability and expertise in solar.”
”Infratec are excited to work with Eastland Group to help deliver this first-of-a-kind project to the Tairāwhiti region,” said Nick Bibby, General Manager – Business Development at Infratec.
“Infratec is focused on helping decarbonise the New Zealand energy system and this project, enabled by forward thinking
Eastland Group, will play a part.”
The resource consent outlines a plan to build an approx. 5MW solar power plant consisting of up to 8,000 solar panels
and covering 6.3 hectares. This will generate enough renewable electricity each year to power the equivalent of 1,100
typical local homes.
The airport site was chosen because of its close proximity to the electricity network and the availability of unused
land with limited development opportunities.
A full range of geotechnical, flood, aeronautical and environmental studies have been undertaken to ensure the project
is sized and orientated in an optimal configuration for its surroundings.
“The resulting system size of 5MW is deemed ideal for this project. There is likely to be some refinement after the
resource consent stage, and as we progress towards a final investment decision,” said Eastland Group General Manager
Energy Solutions, Steven Follows, who is leading the project.
Eastland Group have been consulting with Ngai Tāwhiri, who hold mana whenua over the area, airport tenants and airlines,
and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
“We believe this project will have positive environmental outcomes in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from
the generation of electricity and rehabilitating the water quality of the Waikanae Stream,” said Ngai Tāwhiri working
group representative Thelma Karaitiana.
“This is consistent with the enactment of Kaitiakitanga by Ngai Tāwhiri as we strive to enhance the environmental
outcomes of the rohe.”