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Marsden Point solar project approved

Wednesday 30th October 2019

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The cost of Refining NZ’s proposed 31-hectare solar array has come in at the lower end of expectations.

The $37 million project, approved by the company’s board, was mooted in July with a cost range of $36-39 million. It will be funded with a combination of non-recourse project debt and about $10 million of equity, the company said today. The equity component had previously been estimated at $12-15 million.

“Tapping into solar-generated electricity is expected to shave around $3-4 million from our annual grid electricity bill and will reduce the CO2 emissions associated with the refining operation by a further 18,000 tonnes per year,” chief executive Mike Fuge said in a statement on NZX.

The company’s shares fell 0.5 percent to $2.01, taking their decline this year to 11 percent.

Marsden Point, the country’s sole oil refinery, has spent more than a year looking at the potential of new technologies – including solar and hydrogen – to lower its costs or to form the basis of new, low-carbon business lines in the future.

The firm is already one of the country’s biggest users of hydrogen and in the past has also investigated generating its own power on site from wood waste. It is a major user of power and natural gas.

The solar array will be built on company land next to the refinery. It will have a capacity of 26.7 megawatts – making it the largest in the country - and will meet about 10 percent of the refinery’s electricity needs.

New Zealand homes and businesses had about 106 MW of solar panels installed at Sept. 30, according to Electricity Authority data, 26 percent more than a year earlier.

Northland has the fourth-highest take-up rate after Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough.


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