New Zealand’s largest solar farm will soon be built on a former dairy farm. The 900,000 solar panels in the proposed design would be enough to power about 100,000 homes.

A solar power station with 400MW capacity near Taupō has received resource consent; once completed, it will be able to power about 100,000 households.

900,000 Solar Panels from 2600 Cows

Approximately 35 kilometers east of Taupō on State Highway 5, Todd Generation, through its subsidiary Nova Energy, has submitted a request for permission to convert an existing 1022 hectare dairy farm into in the solar farm in May this year.

Nearly 900,000 solar panels will be installed on land at the proposed solar farm opposite the Rangitāiki Tavern, along with the necessary hardware to transmit power to the national grid.

It will be done in three phases, halting dairy farm operations while work continues, and over five years.

Approximately 2600 cows are currently housed on the property, along with other farming equipment such as milking parlors and effluent management systems.

On the property, nine existing houses are used as housing for farm workers.

Renewable Energy Efforts

The significant decision, according to Babu Bahirathan, chief executive of Nova Energy, is a step to increase Nova’s renewable energy production portfolio and an important step towards New Zealand achieving reduction on emissions and climate change goals.

After opening its 2.1 MW Kapuni Solar Power Plant in South Taranaki in 2021, Nova Energy has started investing in solar energy.

Rangitāiki’s proposed solar farm, with 400 MW of consent, is now New Zealand’s largest approved grid-connected solar project, PV Magazine reports.

According to Bahirathan, the project’s development path is currently under review, and part of that process includes working with an expert contractor to help build a high-quality power plant as well as navigate the effects of the current economy on resource availability, exchange rates, and supply chains.

The first phase of the Rangitāiki solar farm proposes to build and connect to the national grid with up to 150MW of capacity within the next two years, subject to a final investment decision.

According to Bahirathan, the project will create hundreds of local construction jobs and valuable training opportunities in the fast-growing solar industry.

Also Read: Solar Power At Night Is Possible After Scientists Develop This New Device

Solar Energy Farming Concerns

Four submissions for the proposal were received, according to the decision of William (Bill) Wasley: one in support, two neutral, and one against. Wasley is an independent commissioner for the Resource Management Act.

Federated Farmers New Zealand expressed concern over the loss of productive farmland in the area and noted that it could have a negative impact on the social, economic, and cultural well-being of rural residents.

Additionally, it is concerned about the longevity and recyclable nature of solar panels as well as their potential to release toxins into groundwater supplies.

The Federated Farmers stated that it supports the expansion of local electricity supply and the production of renewable electricity.

According to Nova Energy, its solar panels are not expected to leach chemicals and can be fully recycled along with the copper cables and support structures. Additionally, solar panel recycling is expected to have a recovery rate of 95%, Stuff reports.

Wasley said in his decision that the proposal, however, has many positive effects because it involves the retirement of dairy farm operations, the restoration as well as the growth of riparian habitats, and the creation of electricity from solar resources, according to SolarQuotes.

Related article: World’s Largest Solar Farm Plans to Build in the Philippines

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