25 March 2024

    Suncatcher: Fisher Funds backs New Zealand's solar powerhouse, Lodestone Energy

    Ashley Gardyne

    Chief Investment Officer

    Ashley Gardyne

    Chief Investment Officer

    New Zealand’s leading solar generation company, Lodestone Energy, is playing a critical role in the decarbonisation of the New Zealand economy. At Fisher Funds, we are excited to have recently inked a deal to help fund its growth.

    Flicking the switch on Lodestone Energy’s Kaitaia solar farm

    In late February Lodestone Energy flicked the switch on its first solar farm – the Kohirā solar farm near Kaitaia. Kohirā (“suncatcher” in te reo Māori) is New Zealand’s largest solar installation to date, with more than 60,000 solar panels which will generate enough electricity to power over 7,000 kiwi homes.

    Another first for New Zealand is the agrivoltaic design of Kohirā, with the land being used for both solar generation and agriculture, which maximises the production of electricity and maintains productive farming.

    The learnings from developing Kohirā are now being deployed in the construction of the company’s other sites, with first generation from Edgecumbe in March and Waiotahe construction on target to be generating electricity by the end of the year.

    An ambitious New Zealand growth story

    Lodestone was founded in 2019 to pioneer the development of utility scale solar in New Zealand. Co-founder and Managing Director, Gary Holden, has over three decades experience in the energy sector and is the driving force behind Lodestone’s vision. Gary’s experience includes being CEO of Pulse Energy (a nationwide electricity retailer), and the development of some of New Zealand’s largest power plants. His current mission is to make solar power a major force in New Zealand’s decarbonisation efforts.

    The generation capacity from Lodestone’s current developments is earmarked for a range of residential and commercial customers, with big clients like The Warehouse Group securing offtake to help them in their endeavours to meet their zero emissions targets.

    Helping power sustainable growth

    Getting to this stage is a major accomplishment for the company. But with Phase 1 well under way, management are already looking to the next phase of growth.

    The Fisher Funds KiwiSaver Plan provided the majority of Lodestone’s latest $50m funding round, which will help the company push ahead with Phase 2 of its ambitious growth agenda.

    Lodestone’s Phase 2 programme is set to be even larger in scale, with three confirmed South Island farms and additional sites secured and expected to be announced this year. All in, Lodestone is targeting 14 sites across the country, which could ultimately produce enough clean energy to power over 200,000 kiwi homes.

    We are excited by the prospects for Lodestone's future growth, and by its efforts to meet New Zealand’s growing energy needs with solar power.

    KiwiSaver investing in the real economy

    The move away from fossil fuels is going to be a very complex transition for society to manage. It poses many risks, but it also creates opportunities – particularly for investors.

    We believe Lodestone is a great example of how KiwiSaver money* is finally starting to make its way back into the NZ economy – driving growth and development – while also delivering good returns and retirement outcomes for Kiwis.

    When the returns stack up, we are enthusiastic about supporting innovative companies like Lodestone that are making a positive impact on our society.

    Looking beyond our borders, the global shift to renewable energy and investments required to meet net zero commitments is expected to require trillions of dollars of capital – and this will create significant opportunities for those positioned to play a part in the transition.

    As KiwiSaver grows in scale there will be more opportunities for the industry to get involved in funding businesses like Lodestone that are solving real problems, or simply helping the New Zealand business community grow their businesses and meet their potential.

    * Fisher Funds KiwiSaver Plan has invested in Lodestone Energy, Fisher Funds KiwiSaver Scheme and Fisher Funds TWO KiwiSaver Scheme have not.

    Talk to us

    If you have any questions about your investment or would like to make sure you have the right investment strategy to reach your ambitions, get in touch with us – our team are always happy to help.