Proposed Palmerston North solar farm can power 5000 homes

Farmland near the corner of Gillespie's Line and Kairanga Bunnythorpe Rd, the site of a proposed solar farm.

Stuff

Farmland near the corner of Gillespie’s Line and Kairanga Bunnythorpe Rd, the site of a proposed solar farm.

A new solar farm proposed in the north of Palmerston North would generate enough electricity to power 5000 homes every year, if it gets approval to be built.

Kiwi Solar Farms Ltd recently unveiled plans to construct a solar farm using 45,000 solar panels on a 45-hectare site near Kairanga Bunnythorpe Rd.

A solar farm in Palmerston North was installed in 2014 on the roof of the civic administration building and Convention Centre, with 400 panels generating 100kW. However, the solar farm proposed by Kiwi Solar Farms would be on a much more massive scale.

Kiwi Solar Farms Ltd’s founder, Andrew Beckett, said the solar panels could produce up to 28 megawatts of power at peak times, flowing directly into the Manawatū grid.

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The company is preparing to lodge a resource consent with the Palmerston North City Council, and is currently undergoing iwi and local neighbourhood consultation.

Beckett said the days of sunshine were pretty good in the city.

“We are only 3% less than Auckland here.

“Visual impact may be a concern for some, so we are working with a landscape architect to minimise the visual impact based on discussions with nearby landowners.”

The site was chosen due to its proximity to a large Bunnythorpe substation and the land is flat and open, ideal for a solar farm.

Kiwi Solar Farms Ltd’s founder, Andrew Beckett, says the proposed solar farm is going to abate 4500 tonnes of CO2 per year.

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Kiwi Solar Farms Ltd’s founder, Andrew Beckett, says the proposed solar farm is going to abate 4500 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The project would allow dual land use by combining energy generation with continued farming production, Beckett said.

“Studies in Australia have shown the quality of the wool is better [if sheep graze in shade] because heat stress is minimised.

“We will also need to balance it [solar farm] with a productive farm, with sheep grazing underneath the solar panels, so we will be able to have dual use of the land making it more efficient.”

Beckett said renewable energy was critical to mitigate the impact of climate change and help support the country’s ambitious goals to cut down emissions.

Artistic image of a proposed solar farm at Kairanga Bunnythorpe Rd.

Supplied/Stuff

Artistic image of a proposed solar farm at Kairanga Bunnythorpe Rd.

“New Zealand needs huge investment in cleaner energy generation processes.

“Every unit of energy generated in New Zealand roughly produces 100 grams of CO2. It is 4500 tonnes of CO2 that the [solar] farm will be abating per year.”

Beckett said other methods of energy generation worked but they took a long time to build.

“Most of the good hydro sites are already taken and wind farms take a long time to build. However, solar takes less time to build and is easy to maintain.”

Construction would likely start in late 2023 and be completed by late 2024.

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