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Planning consent granted for Ethical Power’s 65MW Buckleys Road solar and BESS project in New Zealand

Ethical Power, working in partnership with KeaX Limited, has obtained planning consent for its latest solar PV development in New Zealand. The consent was granted by Selwyn District Council in May.

The 65MW PV scheme, named Buckleys Road Solar Farm, is located in Selwyn District, just outside Christchurch. It is a 104-ha solar array across a 111-ha site with an operational generating capacity of 100GWh. The solar element of the project will comprise of 140,000 single axis tracking modules and 13 inverters across and a co-located battery energy storage system (BESS).

Nick Keeler, Country Manager for Ethical Power Development New Zealand has led the development of the scheme in partnership with KeaX. He comments on the successful planning decision: “Buckleys Road will undoubtedly be one of the stellar solar projects in New Zealand. We’re delighted with the Council’s positive decision and keen to see the project go live as soon as possible. It’s been a pleasure working on this development with KeaX, combining Ethical Power’s international solar and BESS expertise with KeaX’s insights and local knowledge.”

Campbell McMath, Director of KeaX Limited, commented on the consent approval, “It is encouraging to see the council supporting new, and much needed, renewable energy projects in our area, realising the possibilities of land diversification. This supports Canterbury’s need for greater generation and provides farmers with a stable income.  The partnership with Ethical Power has been an exciting step, allowing Ethical’s and Kea’s skills, knowledge and experience, to compliment each other.”

In preparation for the planning submission, Ethical Power and KeaX consulted Te Taumutu Runanga on the preservation of the cultural values of the land. The planning consent statement included a positive review of the cultural considerations. The design incorporates a Maori Wähi Taonga Site.

The review of the proposed development positively assessed the impact of the solar development on the land. It concluded that the project would not detract from the rural character of the area, thanks to the existing and proposed shelterbelts and proposed landscaping included in the development plan. The land, currently used for cattle grazing, will continue to support primary land-based production through sheep grazing once the site becomes operational.

The proposed Buckleys Road site is located adjacent to the Brookside 66kV substation. With close access to the grid and Christchurch, a major demand hotspot, the project will maximise the effective use of the power network.

According to the National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation (NPS-REG), New Zealand aims to achieve 100% renewable electricity generation by 2030.  The Buckleys Road project fits with this ambition and will positively contribute to increased green power supply with 100GWh of solar power, as well as the security of supply through the battery element of the proposal.