Our Solar / Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs

Lodestone Energy is not the first to harness the power of the sun. We recognise Maui and his four brothers were the first to slow the sun. So, while Lodestone is using modern technology to utilise the sun’s energy, Aotearoa actually has a long history of making best use of the sun.

Maintaining transparency about our planning, processes and environmental impact is important to us. So, here are the answers to some common questions we receive.

Community and iwi engagement

Our kaupapa is to be dedicated partners and collaborators with iwi in the areas we have farms. We are a company that aims to be part of the community we operate in and establishing good working partnerships with iwi is fundamental. Local people are employed on our construction projects with development and training provided. From the very beginning of our projects local iwi are consulted with including naming our farms and Kaumatua leading the blessings of our sites and projects.

Local communities will benefit from easier access to solar energy. Often, solar farm locations are near the end of a transmission system, making delivery costs and electricity prices high. New generation at the end of these lines will help provide a cheaper solution.

We’ve created a way for those who can’t otherwise harness the sun, to do so. For people without a roof, enough roof, or those under someone else’s roof, Lodestone can provide virtual rooftop solar power.

There will also be a range of employment opportunities available to local community members. For example, 40% of Lodestone’s Kaitaia site workforce is made up of locals during construction.

Lodestone Energy has big aspirations to keep harnessing the sun’s energy to power Aotearoa’s zero carbon future.

Our first projects cover five farms across the North Island, generating enough energy to power a city the size of Hamilton. But this is just the beginning. We’re always looking for flat or gently rolling land in rural areas to expand our solar farm network.

Solar farms distributed across regions will help to smooth intermittent generation and ensure a consistent portfolio of production. If you think you might have a suitable site for Lodestone Energy’s next solar farm, please get in touch with us to find out more.

Solar farm development

Lodestone Energy uses bi-facial panels and single axis trackers so our panels can follow the sun’s movement. This means we are 30% – 40% more productive than rooftop solar, resulting in significantly lower costs, higher efficiency, better utilisation of embedded carbon, and more energy generation. Because our farms are planned and constructed meticulously, they require about half the capital to build per megawatt than rooftop solar.

Our solar farms are very low impact construction projects, requiring minimal, concrete, water, earthworks, and heavy machinery for building. Manufacturing solar PV panels creates minimal emissions, as the manufacturing process is highly efficient. The carbon footprint of farm construction is minimal and similar to other forms of electricity generation.

Once operational, the farms will be emission free, helping to displace fossil fuel electricity generation across Aotearoa. Check out our Environmental Footprint page for more detail.

Solar farm locations

Solar farms are best located in sunny rural areas with dry, flat, or gently rolling land. Extensive research identified our first five sites, located across Aotearoa’s sun belt, as the best combination of solar resource and electricity network connectivity, with low community disturbance. We are continually looking for new farms with dry, flat or gently rolling land with lots of sun and good electricity network connectivity.

The benefit of Lodestone’s solar farms is in their design. We are the first company in Aotearoa to adopt agri-voltaic technology, meaning our farms are built to ensure land remains multi-use once solar panels are installed. Our design allows machinery to work and livestock to live happily around the solar arrays, meaning agriculture, horticulture, and grazing can continue at high productivity.

At Lodestone Energy, we’re always looking for new sites for our farms. We’re open to buying or leasing land from third parties and exploring new partnerships. If you think you have a suitable site for Lodestone’s next solar farm, get in touch with us to find out more.

Our farms are located on flat land surrounded by native planting. Our aim is to reduce any visual impact and boost biodiversity by planting native tree belts around our farms.

Solar farms make next to no noise, meaning little impact on neighbours, they release zero emissions, create no pollution, and use minimal water for cleaning. The farms have no negative impact on the land, a win-win for the environment and renewable energy generation.

Solar panels

Our bi-facial solar panels are sourced from the world’s premium suppliers. The dual-facing panels are largely powered by the sun facing surface, but they absorb light reflected from the ground too.

Our farms are designed to last a minimum of 35 years and remain operating at almost 80% of their original efficiency even at the end of that period. After that our solar panels will either find a second life somewhere new or be sold for recycling. There are already Australian companies that repurpose, recycle, or upcycle 97% of their panels.

Where possible, Lodestone will focus on repackaging panels for energy poor regions which can benefit from increased solar generation.

Our solar panels degrade very slowly – they’re made to soak up the sun all day. In just the last decade, innovative technology has significantly reduced efficiency loss. By year 10, we anticipate our farms to retain more than 95% of their year one power capabilities and 80% after 35 years.

China holds more than 80% of the global polysilicon market, 94% of the solar panel market and nearly 100% of the utility-grade solar market, so it is natural that New Zealand’s utility scale solar systems are supplied from China.

Social responsibility is a key criterion in our vendor selection process. We have carefully selected Trina Solar as our solar panel provider for the Phase 1 projects.

Trina is a tier 1 solar company, a major player in utility-grade solar systems manufacturing (including tracking mechanisms and battery systems) and is ranked amongst the top seven largest producers of solar panels in the world. In 2022, it shipped the equivalent of 14.5 GW of solar farm capacity worldwide.

Trina has regional headquarters in Zurich, Fremont (USA Silicon Valley), Miami, Tokyo, Singapore, and Dubai, supported by branch offices in Madrid, Mexico, Sydney, and Rome. They operate manufacturing facilities in China, USA, Thailand and Vietnam, with operating solar facilities in more than 160 countries.

Trina is a world leader in solar energy innovation and reliability and is committed to ensuring an ethical and sustainable supply chain.

At Lodestone, we build enduring relationships with suppliers who do things the right way.

Our due diligence of suppliers, including our solar panel suppliers, is meticulous and on-going and we explicitly contract for rights to terminate for any deviations to our principles.

We have enshrined these approaches in our Modern Slavery Policy which commits us to acting with integrity in all business dealings and to diligently avoid unethical sourcing in our supply chain. We are dedicated to acting expeditiously whenever we become aware of any violations to this policy framework. In addition, our Supplier Guiding Principles sets out our expectations of all our suppliers across social and environmental responsibility, supply chain, business integrity and disclosure.

We’re committed to respecting and supporting the dignity, well-being and human rights of our employees and all those who we engage with, or whose lives are impacted through our supply chain.

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