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Lodestone Energy Officially Opens First North Island Solar Farm, Kohirā

Published: Thu 29 Feb 2024 10:13 AM
Lodestone Energy, New Zealand’s leading solar generation company, has flicked the switch on at its first solar farm in Kaitaia, holding an official opening ceremony today to celebrate the significant milestone and announcing that it has been successful in raising a further $55m capital to continue its solar farm expansion.
The event brought together many of the organisations that helped Lodestone deliver Aotearoa’s first large-scale solar generation plant including local iwi, Te Rarawa, construction partners, Infratec and New Energy by Drillco, and solar panel provider, Trina Solar. Construction at Kaitaia ramped up in early 2023, with Lodestone’s Kohirā solar farm generating its first power in November last year.
Gary Holden, Managing Director of Lodestone Energy, says this occasion marks a pivotal point in New Zealand’s electricity market with the company delivering the first grid-scale solar generation plant.
“As New Zealand’s largest solar installation to date and the first solar farm in New Zealand to bid into the electricity market, this is a crucial step forward in the future of energy generation.
“Many organisations were involved in delivering this project and learnings from Kaitaia are being used in the construction of our other sites with Edgecumbe close to starting generation and Waiotahe construction on target to be generating by the end of the year.”
The site’s official name Kohirā was gifted by Te Rarawa. Kohirā translates to suncatcher in te reo Māori and reflects how Lodestone harnesses the energy of the sun to generate electricity. This partnership with local iwi aligns with Lodestone’s commitment to work with tangata whenua to deliver solar projects that empower both the regions in which they operate, and the way Kiwis live.
Another first for New Zealand is the agri-voltaic design of Kohirā, which maximises the production of electricity and maintains productive farming. Attendees at the ceremony were able to see the design first hand – a design feature that will be rolled out across Lodestone’s solar farms.
With more than 61,000 solar panels installed, the farm will generate 56 GWh of power annually. This is earmarked for residential and commercial energy consumers, including The Warehouse Group who signed up more than 250 sites across New Zealand to Lodestone’s Phase 1 portfolio.
Lodestone’s Phase 1 capital programme consists of five solar farms fully funded in 2022, with Kohirā operating, construction underway in Edgecumbe and Waiotahe and on track to begin this year at two other Phase 1 solar farms in Whitianga and Dargaville.
This week, Lodestone has also successfully completed an equity capital raise of $55 million. The raise was led by Jarden Principal Investments who will be managing a significant investment from Fisher Funds, alongside contributions from other existing investors, including Purpose Capital, Tauhara North No. 2 Trust, ACC, K1W1 and Pathfinder.
“This is an exciting moment for our team at Lodestone and our partners. The funds we’ve secured from the capital raise will be used to finance the pre-construction activities of our second phase of agri-voltaic solar farms.
“These developments will mean there is more new renewable energy available for commercial customers and bring us one step closer to building a more sustainable Aotearoa for generations to come, powering the country’s zero carbon future,” says Holden.
Lodestone’s Phase 2 programme is set to be larger in scale, with three confirmed South Island farms and additional sites expected to be announced this year.

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