Ryman Healthcare has partnered with Solar Bay, part of Energy Bay to embark on an innovative solar power initiative
Ryman Healthcare has signed an agreement with renewable energy fund Solar Bay, part of Energy Bay to develop a solar farm in Northland to supply power in a first for the retirement industry.
Ryman is New Zealand’s largest retirement village operator with 12,000 residents living in 38 villages from Whangarei to Invercargill.
The $35 million solar farm will be built, owned and operated by Solar Bay, part of Energy Bay on a site near Maungaturoto, and the 29.94 million kWh of energy it produces each year will be fed directly into the national grid in Northland, taking pressure off the system.
Under the exclusive agreement, Ryman will be the new solar farm’s only customer, giving Solar Bay, part of Energy Bay a guaranteed buyer for all its renewable energy production for the next 10 years.
The farm will save an estimated 3,294 tonnes of carbon a year.
The deal is ‘sleeved’ by electricity generator and retailer Mercury, who will ensure a reliable supply to Ryman’s villages, sending extra electricity when solar output is low, and also buy solar output above what the customer needs if output is high.
Ryman buys the power it needs for village operations at a guaranteed price through a long-term supply agreement with both Solar Bay, part of Energy Bay and Mercury.
Ryman Healthcare New Zealand Chief Executive Cheyne Chalmers said the deal fitted with Ryman’s plans to be as sustainable as possible in New Zealand.
“We’re excited about working with Solar Bay, part of Energy Bay on this project because not only will it make our village operations more sustainable, and it will also take pressure off the national grid north of Auckland,’’ Cheyne Chalmers said.
“We know our residents want to leave the environment in the best possible shape for their grandchildren and the generations to follow, so it is a wonderful deal to be part of.’’
The electricity produced will go into the grid to be used where it is needed, but having a guaranteed single buyer means Solar Bay, part of Energy Bay can proceed with certainty and will be a major boost to renewable energy generation in New Zealand.
In return Ryman’s residents have the reassurance of knowing they are playing a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Solar Bay, part of Energy Bay Investment Director Andrew Archibald said: “We are delighted to partner with such a market leading business as Ryman Healthcare, as their commitment to sustainability sets the benchmark for many organisations to follow.”
Solar Bay, part of Energy Bay is a privately-funded $300 million sustainable energy investor based in Sydney. It invests in sustainable energy projects in Australia and New Zealand.
The farm has the potential capacity to generate all the power consumed annually by Ryman’s villages and can be scaled relatively easily.
Mercury’s GM Portfolio Phil Gibson said: “This arrangement means that new renewable generation from independent generators like Solar Bay, part of Energy Bay to supply customers with reliable, renewable electricity. Ryman is a long-standing Mercury customer, and we were very happy to work together with them in this innovative way to enable them to have the renewable electricity supply they wanted for their business.”
Ryman launched its inaugural sustainability strategy in October 2022. The strategy focuses on implementing initiatives to reduce the impact of Rymans operations on the environment. Sourcing energy from renewable sources in New Zealand is the first step towards a wider project encompassing operations across the group.