Contact Energy Expects 95% Renewable Generation by Mid-2027

Contact Energy Expects 95% Renewable Generation by Mid-2027

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(Bloomberg) — Contact Energy expects to have more than 95% of its New Zealand generation renewable by mid-2027 as it moves forward with plans to build new geothermal and solar-powered plants.

The company plans to apply for consent to build a 160 megawatt solar farm northwest of Auckland before the end of this year, the Wellington-based company said Monday. A final investment decision on a solar farm near Christchurch is expected in coming months.

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Contact has already committed almost NZ$1.2 billion ($720 million) to the construction of two North Island geothermal projects, the first of which is scheduled to be completed this year. It expects to make a final investment decision on a new 180 MW geothermal station near Taupo in early 2024. 

New Zealand generates more than 80% of its electricity from renewable sources and the government aspires to raise that to 100% by 2030. Last week, BlackRock Inc. launched a NZ$2 billion fund aimed at investing in green energy projects in the country. 

As it adds renewable plants, Contact is shutting down gas-fired turbines, such as those at Te Rapa, near Hamilton, which closed on June 30, and it expects to decommission another plant in Taranaki at the end of 2024. It is also investigating a grid-scale battery system to boost security of supply. 

“With more intermittent renewables being introduced, grid-scale batteries will play an important role by storing energy during periods of low demand and discharging power into the grid during the peaks,” said Chief Executive Officer Michael Fuge. “This investment will reduce our reliance on gas peaking plant.”

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Contact’s capital spending on growth projects was NZ$472 million in the 12 months ended June 30, and it projects spending as much as NZ$500 million in the following year, according to its annual results presentation Monday.

It reported net income dropped 30% to NZ$127 million after a provision. Excluding the provision, underlying profit rose 16%.

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