Wednesday, April 13, 2022

More solar

Newsroom reports that Nova Energy is planning Aotearoa's biggest solar farm, and its truly massive:

A 400 megawatt solar farm planned for the Taupō region could produce 190 times more electricity than New Zealand's current largest grid-connected solar facility, Newsroom can reveal.

Nova Energy, owned by the Todd Corporation, has applied for two resource consents from Taupō District Council to construct the project in three stages over six or seven years. When completed, it will involve more than 750,000 individual solar panels and could power 100,000 homes – more than one in every 20 houses across New Zealand.

To put that in context, 400MW is the size of a standard gas power station (like Stratford, or Huntly 5), and just under the size of the Clyde Dam. So its a massive chunk of generation which will make a real difference. But it gets better, because there's mention of another 300MW farm in the South Island buried in the article. And just like that, the entire pipeline of solar projects has doubled.

This is obviously great news for emissions. While solar only generates during the day, every GWh it generates is one that won't be generated by coal or gas. Which means it will help push dirty fossil generation out of the market, and push it further into the cold winter peak load and backup roles. Daytime summer load will also allow more water to be held in the dams, rather than used to generate power, which will help smooth our seasonality. And since they can be built quickly, we'll start seeing the benefits in a year or two.