The site in Ruakākā where Meridian is building a $186 million, 200MWh battery farm to store power.
Work has started on New Zealand’s first large-scale grid battery farm, capable of storing up to 200 megawatt hours (MWh) of power – enough to power 60,000 households for two hours over winter.
Meridian has begun construction of its $186 million Ruakākā Energy Park, on Rama Rd, for the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) part of the project.
In November, Meridian Energy received resource consent from Whangārei District Council and Northland Regional Council to go ahead with the plan to build the massive battery farm – the country’s first – in area the size of two rugby fields on land next to Channel Infrastructure, the former Marsden Point Oil Refinery. It’s the first stage of the energy park, which may also later house a 130MW solar farm.
“This grid-scale battery at Ruakākā is the first significant milestone for our ambitions in Northland. The Ruakākā battery system will be Aotearoa New Zealand’s first large-scale grid battery, and adds significant versatility for Meridian and the electricity system as a whole,” Meridian chief executive Neal Barclay said.
The sod-turning event marked the start of earthworks and drainage for the project, which will take place until July. The earthworks will be done by United Civil Contractors from Whangārei and will involve moving 40,000 cubic metres of sand from around the site and from a stockpile on McCathie Rd.
“We’d like to acknowledge local hapū Patuharakeke who, with Meridian, are developing a relationship agreement to work together with the hope this project enables collective opportunities, including employment and training and assessment of future projects, as well as advancing renewable energy initiatives in their rohe [territory],” Barclay said.
“We have a bold vision for Ruakākā, with a grid-scale solar farm planned to further speed up our transition to a productive low-carbon economy. The shared infrastructure provided by the BESS will significantly improve the economics of the future solar farm.”
Meridian general manager of development Guy Waipara said the project would have a positive impact on the region, in terms of resilience and improving security of supply, as well as local economic benefits throughout the construction period and the introduction of a Community Fund upon completion.
Meridian is currently working with local contractors for the second stage of the project – battery support infrastructure.
The company is investing about $186m into the project and expects annual revenue of around $35m, with $6m in operating costs. The bulk of the project capital cost is the battery contract with global battery specialist Saft.
The Ruakākā battery is expected to be operational by the third quarter of 2024. For more information, go to: www.meridianenergy.co.nz/public/Investors/RUAKAKA-BATTERY-ENERGY-STORAGE-SYSTEM.pdf.