Contact and Lightsource bp join forces as solar development partners in New Zealand

New Zealand energy company Contact Energy (“Contact”) and global solar developer Lightsource bp (“LSbp”) will collaborate on a series of grid-scale solar generation projects to create up to 380,000 megawatt-hours of clean, affordable electricity per year by 2026 – enough to power 50,000 homes across the country.

Under the new 50/50 joint venture, Contact and LSbp will research, develop and construct several solar farm projects in various locations around New Zealand. Contact may purchase the electricity generated by the projects through a long-term power purchase agreement.

Contact CEO Mike Fuge said the new joint venture is aligned with Contact’s strategy to decarbonise New Zealand through the development and delivery of renewable energy generation projects.

“Our strategy charts the course for Contact to decarbonize New Zealand, and a key aspect of this is our commitment to help meet the massive and anticipated demand for renewable electricity.

“We are very pleased to partner with Lightsource bp – their team has deep expertise in solar development and an extremely impressive track record.”

Lightsource bp is a global leader in the development and management of solar energy infrastructure, active in 17 countries, including Australia, and has delivered more than 5.4 gigawatts of utility-scale solar projects worldwide. Founded in 2010, LSbp is now a 50/50 joint venture with energy company bp, and was created to provide sustainable and affordable electricity to businesses and communities around the world.

Adam Pegg, LSbp Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand, said: “We are delighted to announce our entry into the New Zealand market and this new exclusive partnership with Contact.

“Grid-scale solar generation is a natural complement to New Zealand’s current generation mix and this partnership sees an experienced and highly regarded New Zealand producer and retailer join forces with our global solar expertise to create reliable solar energy at a competitive cost.

“Recently, we announced our ambition to develop 25 GW of solar power projects across the world by 2025, and this partnership with Contact is another step in that journey.”

Mr Pegg said the construction of state-of-the-art solar power generation projects is expected to create around 500 construction jobs over the next four years. “Our solar farms will create significant jobs and investment in New Zealand’s regional communities and businesses.”

Mr Fuge said the economics and attributes of solar developments have become increasingly attractive in recent years. “The technology around grid-scale solar generation has improved dramatically and we look forward to bringing these development opportunities to life with the Lightsource bp team.”

Contact and LSbp plan to announce details of their potential first development site in the coming months and aim to begin power generation by 2024.

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