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New renewable energy park opens at Christchurch Airport

New Zealand’s Energy Minister Megan Woods, James Shaw, New Zealand’s Climate Change Minister as well as Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, planted two kwhai trees on the park’s location on 1st December 2021, adjacent to the century-old kwhai the park is named for.

The Park will grow over the following 30 years, with Phase One delivering a 220-hectare solar array on the airport property capable of producing 150MW of electricity (sufficient to power 30,000 households, or around 20% of Christchurch’s latest residential electricity demand). This will help to advance green fuel generation for land and air transportation, green data centers, and green vertical farming in the future.

Solar Bay, which is an Australian renewable energy fund, has committed $100 million to Phase One development. “There is nothing else such as this in New Zealand – it’s creative, far ahead of its time, and truly world-leading in every way,” stated Investment Director Jack Sherratt of Christchurch Airport’s (CHC) initiative. Phase One is 50 times greater than any other solar array in the nation, and it’s only the beginning. This will hasten Canterbury’s transition to a low-carbon future.”

Kwhai Park is part of Christchurch Airport’s aim to be climate positive over the next decade and maintain its world-leading position on sustainability, according to Chief Executive Malcolm Johns.

“Our team has progressively decarbonized our business over the last decade,” Johns continued. We’ve cut our direct emissions by 85% and are on course to achieve carbon neutrality far before the city’s 2030 deadline and New Zealand’s 2050 deadline. We want to make it as easy as possible for the rest of the market to decarbonize. Kwhai Park is all about that.”

Malcolm Johns went on to say that Kwhai Park will provide green energy so that other businesses can make the switch. “As we decarbonize, demand for renewable energy is predicted to rise by 68%.  It will also help aviation to decarbonize and disconnect from fossil fuels.” Kwhai Park will help satisfy that additional demand over time and provide a reliable supply of renewable energy for Canterbury and New Zealand. Over the next several decades, both electric and hydrogen-fueled planes are likely to be seen on New Zealand’s domestic routes. “Kwhai Park can help with the transformation in Christchurch,” Johns said.

“It’s adjacent to New Zealand’s second-largest city, the Canterbury Plains are sunny and flat, and the park has Orion’s lines network (supplying Christchurch) on one side and Transpower’s national grid pylons on the other,” Sherratt explained. It’s the apex of the web.” Johns went on to explain how Kwhai Park is more than just a solar farm; it is a large-scale platform that will enable a multi-sector energy change in Canterbury and across the country over many decades.