A new company Lodestone Energy has unveiled plans to build five solar energy farms in the upper North Island at a cost of $300 million, including one near Whitianga. This is great news for the security of electricity supply in Thames Coromandel, as it will decrease reliance on electricity generated outside of the district. It confirms that renewable solar is cost competitive with other options, will serve to potentially lower electricity costs and produce 40-80 jobs during the 12 month construction phase.
Together the farms will be capable of providing about 1 per cent of the country’s electricity supply. Once complete they should have an annual output of about 400GWh, which would be enough to power all 55,000 homes in Hamilton or about 150,000 electric cars.
The five solar farms will cover 500 hectares and will comprise 500,000 solar panels which will be erected at a height of about 2.3 metres, in lines about 10 metres apart, allowing livestock to graze underneath and tractors to move in between.
Hopefully, it will also put an end to the ridiculous proposition from Powerco to use diesel generators to cover peak electricity demand in Thames Coromandel.
This project will be a game changer in the electricity market, showing that large-scale solar farms, along with wind and geothermal are the way of the future, and end our reliance on fossil fuels to generate electricity such as at the Huntly power station.