Friday 06 July 2012
Auckland Mayor Len Brown and a delegation of New Zealand business leaders today visited the Tonga solar farm project, which will become the first utility-scale energy generation facility in Tonga.
Meridian Energy is the lead developer on the project, which is an alliance with Tonga Power Ltd and the Government of Tonga, with funding provided by the New Zealand Aid Programme. Tonga Power and Meridian were pleased to welcome the Mayor, who is leading a mission to strengthen Auckland’s relationships with its Pacific partner countries.
Len Brown, Mayor of Auckland, said “It’s great to see Kiwi companies and our overseas aid programme achieve positive results with projects like the Tonga solar farm, because proper infrastructure is vital for the development of our region – growing the Pacific economy is good for the islands and good for New Zealand”.
Meridian is providing development, engineering, construction and commissioning expertise to the project as well as advice on asset management and maintenance.
Meridian’s External Relations General Manager, Guy Waipara, said “For Tonga, the solar farm is a positive step towards renewable electricity generation as an alternative to importing diesel, and the project is also providing jobs for locals who are developing the essential skills to further develop solar power in the future”.
“Meridian’s involvement leverages our renewable energy expertise, including that which we developed in solar power from building our grid-connected solar facility in California. It’s great to now be using that expertise closer to home, as we look to new opportunities in this space,” said Mr Waipara.
The solar farm is expected to be opened in a formal ceremony involving His Majesty King Tupou VI in late July. It will generate approximately 1880 megawatt hours of electricity per annum, which will meet approximately 4% of Tongatapu’s total electricity demand. The solar farm is being built on land adjacent to Tonga Power’s Popua Power Station, south east of the capital Nuku’alofa.
Tonga Power will be responsible for operating and maintaining the facility. In 2017, full legal ownership of the solar farm transfers to Tonga Power.
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About Meridian Energy
Meridian Energy is an integrated renewable energy company; the largest generator in New Zealand, with a strong pipeline of development options in Australasia; and an electricity retailer throughout New Zealand.
Meridian and its online subsidiary Powershop retail electricity to approximately 290,000 connections − homes, farms and businesses throughout New Zealand. Meridian received the highest customer satisfaction ratings of all the major national retailers, and Powershop was rated first overall, as voted by customers in two independent surveys1 carried out in 2011.
The Meridian Energy Group includes a parent company Meridian Energy, subsidiary businesses in Australia and the USA and other innovative New Zealand investments that complement our core activities as an electricity generator and retailer. In total the Group employs approximately 775 people and has offices in Wellington, Christchurch and Twizel, and, internationally, in Melbourne, Australia, and San Francisco, California.
Meridian generates electricity from renewable sources − wind and water in New Zealand; wind in Australia; and solar in the USA. The company supplies thirty per cent of New Zealand’s total electricity needs, including to the country’s largest consumer, the New Zealand Aluminum Smelter, near Bluff. Meridian owns and operates seven hydro stations, six within the Waitaki Hydro Scheme, and four wind farms throughout New Zealand.
In Australia, Meridian owns and operates Mt Millar wind farm and is partnering with AGL Energy to build the Macarthur wind farm, which, at 420 megawatts, will be the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere. The company also built the world’s southernmost wind farm at Ross Island in Antarctica, in partnership with Antarctica New Zealand. Meridian’s solar farm, CalRENEW-1, was the first grid-connected solar farm to be built in California, and the company is using that expertise to build the first solar farm in Tonga.
Meridian’s pipeline of renewable development projects includes options at different stages of investigation and consent. The Australasian development pipeline equates to more than 1,000 megawatts.
Meridian’s commitment to renewable energy, environmental stewardship and support for the communities living alongside its assets makes it authentically sustainable. Meridian continually looks for ways to provide positive energy solutions to customers to help them reduce their energy use.
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