Aotearoa’s Utility Scale Solar Gold Rush
New Zealand is experiencing a gold rush in the development of solar farms with multiple Giga-Watts of generation projects announced and in planning stages across the country. This New Zealand Utility Scale sector is rapidly evolving, from only having a few MW of groundmounted projects to installing upwards of 2GW of solar capacity in the next 2-5 years. Aotearoa has been late to the party due to a lack of subsidies, equipment cost and competition with productive farmland. However, a tipping point has been reached and SEANZ expects a large industry centred around Utility-Scale solar to develop in the coming years.
This massive growth represents an opportunity for many kiwi businesses from investors, engineering services, equipment providers, construction services, technical consulting, planning, legal and financial to operations and maintenance services. With such a significant growth however, there will be growing pains and SEANZ needs to adapt accordingly.
SEANZ Utility Scale Solar Strategy
SEANZ will focus on developing a full solar/BESS trifecta across residential, commercial, and utility-scale sectors and preparing its members for change and industry growth.
There is significant potential in Aotearoa's fast-moving developing utility-scale sector. To front foot and represent the whole industry SEANZ has co-opted two new board members with the Utility experience required to represent this exciting new sector.
The three main types of solar farms developing around the country are utility-scale, privately developed, and community solar farms. The main difference between them is their customers, as utility-scale solar farms sell directly to utilities, privately developed commercial solar farms sell to a large offtake via a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), while community solar farms sell directly to end-consumers of electricity, such as homeowners and renters.
Utility-scale development is akin to the building and infrastructure industry and has different criteria from the residential and commercial scale markets. It requires different skills and approaches with resourcing, actions, engagement, and lobbying for SEANZ.
Initially, there will be a key focus for SEANZ to become the central representation and support beacon for utility-scale in NZ. It will develop critical resources for members that include but are not limited to EPC contracts guides, community engagement processes, sustainability and habitat management guides, grid-connection and consenting information, and industry supplier and resource lists.
SEANZ will also tackle a number of current issues, such as conflicts around land and its use, the aesthetics of solar farms, lack of community engagement, Grid-Connection processes and procurement challenges.
We will seek new members for the utility sector, such as project developers, financial investors, technical consultants, and utility engineering/procurement/construction (EPC's). In addition, SEANZ will engage more contracted expertise to build the necessary utility-scale structure.
If you would like to become a utility-scale SEANZ member please click here.