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Foodstuffs building country's largest solar panel roof

Foodstuffs is building the country's largest solar panel farm to power its new North Island distribution centre.

The distribution centre, which will serve all Pak 'n Save, New World and Four Square supermarkets in the North Island, will include the equivalent of 14 netball courts of solar panels.

The building is currently under construction near Auckland International Airport.

Technically known as a photovoltaic (PV) array, the system is made up of 2915 solar panels covering a total area of about 6000 square metres, which would be enough to power 213 average-sized new homes.

Foodstuffs North Island's property manager Lindsay Rowles said the new facility offered a rare opportunity to realise significant carbon reductions.

Foodstuffs New Zealand joined the Climate Leaders Coalition on January 15, linking its sustainability ambitions to the coalition's mission to tackle climate change and help New Zealand transition to a low emissions economy.

"This major solar panel installation and the creation of a five Greenstar New Zealand Green Building Council rated office complex, is the first of its kind at this scale for New Zealand and is in line with our aspiration of working towards a more environmentally sustainable business," Rowles said.

The new 74,886sqm distribution centre will consolidate three existing North Island centres onto one site.

The solar panels would generate enough electricity a year to drive 8.8 million kilometres in an electric car, Rowles said.

Any excess electricity will be sold into the grid.

Simon Wilson of RDT Pacific, the director and sustainable development adviser for the project, said the fact the system was economically viability for Foodstuffs signalled that a turning point in the industry had been reached.

"As a major electricity consumer, Foodstuffs has obvious purchasing leverage [but] the solar option still stacks up. For this reason, this renewable energy solution should be attractive to many more businesses."

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