Media Release - 21 September 2023

Helios confirms plans for solar farm between Naseby and Ranfurly

Helios Energy today confirmed plans to seek resource consent for a 300-megawatt solar farm on the Maniototo Plain.

Helios is a Kiwi solar developer committed to developing grid-scale solar projects that make a positive contribution to Aotearoa New Zealand’s economy, energy market and climate change commitments.

Helios has a development pipeline of approximately one gigawatt (1GW) across the country, representing approximately $1.5 billion of capital investment.

Helios Co-Founder and Managing Director, Jeff Schlichting, said the Maniototo Plain has a very high-quality solar resource and the wider region was already a renewable electricity generation hub for the country via its hydro dams and robust electrical transmission infrastructure. “The planned project will be located on 660 hectares of land owned by two local farming families and will generate enough clean, renewable electricity to power the equivalent of around 70,000 homes annually.

“It is an important contribution toward meeting future energy demand, complementing the region’s strong hydro generation,” he said.

“We have taken great care to select a site that minimises visual impacts and is on working, modified farmland free from extensive irrigation. Large-scale solar is now the lowest impact and lowest cost form of energy globally. Once developed, the site will be quiet, passive and well screened by existing shelterbelts and topography, as well as extensive new planting on the site boundary.

“The solar farm will produce no emissions and have no negative impact on soil or water. At the end of the solar farm's operational life it can be rapidly decommissioned, allowing the land to be returned to its previous use,” he said.

Schlichting acknowledged that while the solar farm occupies only a fraction of the Maniototo Plain landscape, it represents a new land use for the district. However, the solar farm can support the continued grazing of sheep under and around the solar panels, as is common internationally. He also said Helios is committed to a transparent consenting process and to engaging openly with the local community.

“This solar project can be developed while still preserving and protecting landscape, ecological and rural amenity values. Responsible grid-scale solar projects like this are essential if we are to meet our national climate change commitments and power Aotearoa New Zealand’s economy.”

Helios is hosting a community information drop-in session at the Maniototo Golf Club in Ranfurly between 3 – 7pm on Thursday 5 October. The community is warmly welcomed to learn more about the project, with Helios team members available to answer questions.