New Zealand airport plans 150-MW solar park as part of wider project

Solar power station. Featured Image: worradirek/

December 3 (Renewables Now) - Christchurch Airport in New Zealand's eponymous city is developing a renewable energy park that will initially feature a 150-MW solar power facility, with plans to include battery storage and green hydrogen capabilities in future.

Australian renewables investment fund Solar Bay is committing NZD 100 million (USD 68.1m/EUR 60m) to fund the development of Phase One of the site, which is named Kowhai Park. Energy and infrastructure consultant Worley (ASX:WOR) is also behind the initiative.

Christchurch Airport has committed a total of 400 hectares to Kowhai Park, with the planned solar array to span 220 hectares. The location is close to the runways, to power distributor Orion's network and to grid operator Transpower's lines. It is therefore suited to developing a range of renewable energy projects as it grows over the next 30 years.

The output from the first phase will be enough to power 30,000 homes, covering around 20% of Christchurch’s current residential electricity use.

"There is nothing else like this in New Zealand – it’s innovative, far ahead of its time and absolutely world-leading in every sense. The Phase One solar array is 50 times larger than any existing array in the country – and it’s just the beginning," Solar Bay's investment director Jack Sherratt said.

According to Christchurch Airport chief executive Malcolm Johns, Kowhai Park will advance climate change targets in the broader New Zealand economy.

"We’ve reduced 90% of our direct emissions and we’re on track to be carbon zero well before the city’s goal of 2030 and New Zealand’s goal of 2050. We want to enable the rest of the economy to decarbonise at the fastest possible rate," Johns said.

Christchurch Airport will complete the scoping work on the project to share with interested parties by early 2022. Kowhai Park could be ready to go live from 2025.

(NZD 1 = USD 0.681/EUR 0.600)

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