More solar farms proposed for Canterbury

Lightyears Solar Ltd co-founders Matt Shanks (left) and Sean Toban. Photo: Supplied by Lightyears...
Lightyears Solar Ltd co-founders Matt Shanks (left) and Sean Toban. Photo: Supplied by Lightyears Solar Ltd
Canterbury could soon be lit up with solar farms.

The Waimakariri District Council has received resource consent applications from three companies looking to build solar farms in the district, while the Hurunui District Council has also received a solar farm application.

MainPower, North Canterbury’s energy network, has applied for resource consent to construct a solar farm on a 10 hectare site at Thongcaster Rd at Eyrewell Forest, to the north of Waimakariri River.

When complete, the site is expected to produce enough energy to power 1250 local homes via MainPower’s distribution network, a Mainpower spokesperson said.

‘‘MainPower has been encouraged by the support of the neighbours surrounding the proposed solar farm.’’

There is no confirmed timeframe at this stage for the construction.

A Waimakariri District Council spokesperson said Mainpower ‘‘obtained affected party approval’’ from all 11 affected parties, so notification was not required.

Auckland-based Lightyears Solar Ltd has applied for a resource consent to build an eight hectare solar farm at Swannanoa, near Rangiora, with 9077 solar panels.

A council spokesperson said the application is on hold while more information is sought from the applicant.

No decision has been made on whether the application will be notified.

Lightyears Solar Ltd co-founder and development manager Matt Shanks said his company proposed building ‘‘a mid-sized, dual use solar farm’’.

Construction is expected to begin later this year, with commissioning early next year.

‘‘The solar panel rows will be spaced about five metres apart and the landowner will graze animals under the solar farm array.’’

He said the farm will generate six megawatts of renewable energy, which will mostly be consumed locally ‘‘providing for some of Rangiora’s daytime energy needs’’.

Mr Shanks said Lightyears Solar has contacted the immediate neighbours to the farm, as part of the consent process.

‘‘We keep it low impact by keeping the panels fairly low to the ground, installing planting strips around the farm, and ensuring there is plenty of space between the rows for grazing and continued pasture growth.’’

A resource consent was received last month from Australian company Energy Bay Ltd to construct and operate a utility scale solar energy farm on 80 hectares on the corner of Upper Sefton Road and Beatties Road, Sefton, north of Rangiora.

The Hurunui District Council also received an application last month from Far North Solar Farm Ltd for a 180.8 hectare solar farm at Waipara.

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

■ LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.