FRV, Genesis Reach Financial Close on 47-MW New Zealand PV Project

Source: 1/15/2024, Location: Not categorized

Genesis and joint venture partner, FRV Australia, have completed the financial close on their 63 MW solar farm to be built at Lauriston on the Canterbury Plains.

Located one hour’s drive from Christchurch, the solar farm is on a 93-hectare site and once operational, will power the equivalent of nearly 13,000 houses. It is expected to create more than 50 jobs during the construction phase and employ up to three full-time staff when operational. Construction contracts have been confirmed, initial work is underway, and procurement of key equipment has started. The expected construction costs are approximately $104 million.

The joint venture also signed a 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Genesis Energy who will take all the renewable energy from the site.

This is the largest solar farm in New Zealand to reach financial close and first electricity is expected late this year. The original capacity was estimated at 52 MW but through engineering optimisation has been increased to 63 MW.

The partners are also assessing three North Island sites with a combined capacity of up to 400 MW as Genesis focuses on moving to around 95% renewable generation by 2035.

Genesis Energy’s Chief Wholesale Officer, Tracey Hickman, said it was an important milestone for the company and the country.

“Solar has a clear role to play in New Zealand’s energy transition as a renewable source of generation. It will enable us to provide cleaner energy to our customers, while also reducing emissions from our generation portfolio as Genesis invests in new renewable generation and moves to become net zero by 2040,” Hickman said.

“The pleasing aspect of this project is it shows the value of our joint venture and that the model we have put in place for Lauriston works. It has allowed us to sign quality delivery partners, including our lead contractor, equipment suppliers and lenders.”

The two companies formed a joint venture in late 2021 to develop up to 500 MW of solar capacity over five years. This is expected to generate about 750 GWh pa – enough to power 100,000 households or 185,000 EVs per year.

The debt funding is provided by Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) and MUFG Bank Ltd (MUFG). The joint venture has selected BEON to carry out the construction of the project, with initial works already underway. FRV Australia and BEON have a successful history delivering solar farms together in Australia.

FRV Australia CEO Carlo Frigerio said: “We are thrilled to announce this significant milestone for Lauriston Solar Farm. This marks our inaugural financial closing in New Zealand, serving as the cornerstone for FRV Australia and Genesis development efforts. It is a pivotal moment for both our presence in the country and the solar industry, which is just beginning to take root.” FRV Australia is co-owned by Canadian pension fund and infrastructure investor OMERS.

Christopher Curtain, Senior Managing Director and Head of Asia-Pacific, OMERS Infrastructure, said OMERS is committed to ongoing investments in energy transition opportunities, strategically expanding our global portfolio. “We are excited by the opportunity to invest in the New Zealand energy sector, alongside Genesis, a like-minded partner, and advance our collective efforts to facilitate a shift to greener and more sustainable infrastructure," he said.

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