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FRV Australia And Genesis Joint Venture Begin The Construction Of The Biggest Solar Farm In New Zealand

FRV Australia, a leading developer of sustainable energy solutions, and part of Abdul Latif Jameel Global Energy and Environment Holding Company Limited (“Abdul Latif Jameel Energy”), OMERS and its joint venture (JV) partner Genesis Energy, a New Zealand publicly listed electricity generation company, have begun the construction of the largest solar farm in New Zealand after reaching financial close in December 2023.

This 63 MW solar farm is located one hour’s drive from Christchurch, at Lauriston on the Canterbury Plains. The plant 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. The expected construction costs are approximately $104 million. The site is expected to be generating electricity by the end of 2024. The joint venture also signed a 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Genesis Energy which will take all the renewable energy from the site.

A sod-turning ceremony on site on 23 April saw Genesis Chief Executive Malcolm Johns and FRV Australia CEO Carlo Frigerio launch construction. Also in attendance were Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown, the Chief Executive of EA Networks, Onno Mulder, and the General Manager of construction partner BEON, Kieren Lewis.

Malcolm Johns said the start of construction was an important milestone for the joint venture and for the country: “For New Zealand to reach net zero 2050 the country’s energy must become 60% electric, 95% renewable and available 100% of the time. Solar has a clear role to play in this transition, and Lauriston is the first stage of the joint venture commitment to build 500 MW of solar capacity throughout New Zealand,” says Johns.

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FRV Australia Chief Executive Officer, Carlo Frigerio, said: “FRV Australia and Genesis have worked together to achieve this moment, our first project in New Zealand marks the beginning of a new era with Lauriston, the first large scale solar farm reaching operational stage in the country. We are very excited with this alliance and a very promising pipeline of solar projects expected to be delivered in the coming years.”

The joint venture 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. “Solar energy from sites like Lauriston will also enable Genesis to reduce our generation emissions as we move to become net zero by 2040,” Johns 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.” 

Frigerio added: “We are very excited with our partnership with Genesis, Lauriston is just the beginning of our mission to bring together more solar projects to the country, powering a sustainable future for all.” 

Christoper Curtain, Head of Asia Pacific, OMERS Infrastructure, said: “We’re proud to be invested in FRV Australia and excited to see the progress being made through the partnership with Genesis in New Zealand.” FRV Australia and Genesis Energy formed a joint venture in late 2021. The joint venture’s target development of 500 MW of solar capacity 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 is coowned by Canadian pension fund and infrastructure investor OMERS.

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