Tauhei SOLAR FARM
SUPPORTING HARMONY ENERGY NEW ZEALAND TO ACHIEVE CONSENT TO DEVELOP A SOLAR FARM IN THE WAIKATO
Harmony Energy New Zealand
Planning, Renewable Energy, Ecology, Landscape, Iwi, Contaminated land
The Environmental Protection Authority granted consent to a proposed solar farm by Harmony Energy NZ, in the vicinity of Te Aroha West (Matamata-Piako District) on 20 September 2022. At 147MW capacity, we understand that this is the largest single solar development consented in Aotearoa. On an annual basis, it will supply the equivalent electricity needs of about 30,000 houses – which is approximately the size of Hamilton City. This is an important step on our national journey towards the goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
The solar farm’s 182 hectares will be home to approximately 330,000 solar panels but also allow the grazing of sheep between and under the panel arrays. Significantly, the project area includes approximately 7ha of restored wetland, the retention of roosting trees for native bats (pekapeka-tou-roa), extensive riparian planting and a network of indigenous species planted as biodiversity corridors. Boundary planting will also screen solar panels from view. The design reflects a shared vision between Harmony and 4Sight to develop solar farms that are culturally sensitive, responsive to the landscape and ecologically enriching. The design and construction phase will take a couple of years, with the solar farm being expected to be operational in 2025.
4Sight is proud to have worked with Harmony over a period of several years to scope the site, consult with iwi, investigate ecology, review landscape impacts, assess soil contamination and ultimately prepare the application for consent. Reflecting the project’s significance, Harmony progressed the application via the Fast Track legislation which is a two-step process first requiring acceptance by the Minster for the application to be referred to the EPA for a decision.