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Kiwi sun shines on Hong Kong technologies

New ZealandGreen energyGreen finance

A New Zealand investor draws on the city’s resources to fund and equip a US$1 billion solar farm project.


New Zealand is set to greatly increase its use of solar power

A comprehensive investment firm from New Zealand, Stonewood Group, signed several technology-related cooperation agreements with Hong Kong businesses at the Belt and Road Summit, co-organised by the Hong Kong SAR Government and Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) this summer.

With less than 3% of sunny New Zealand's power coming from solar energy at present, a key Stonewood project aims to address this shortage by installing more solar panels in the country.

New Zealand plans to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2035. Energy Resources Aotearoa reports that the country’s energy mix at present is 32% oil, 22% geothermal, 20% natural gas, 10% hydro, 7% coal and 9% from other sources, including sunshine.

Joining the Belt and Road Summit last year, Stonewood had established connections with many potential partners and investors, most of whom were interested in the company's Solar Farms project. The HKTDC Sydney Office brought the interested parties together, introducing Hong Kong company Li & Co Global to Stonewood, which hired the firm for international financing advisory services.

In January this year, John Chow, Stonewood Co-Founder and CEO, and Garry Ko, Executive Director of Stonewood subsidiary RCR Infrastructure, took part in the Asian Financial Forum , co-organised by the Hong Kong SAR Government and HKTDC. Stonewood not only made use of the investment project matching meeting at AFF, but also joined several promotion sessions. Forum attendees were interested in several of the company's projects.

The Belt and Road Summit was a crucial meeting point for Stonewood

While in Hong Kong, they also held face-to-face meetings with potential partners and investors. One of the potential partners was RaSpect HK, introduced to Stonewood by the HKTDC Sydney office. RaSpect provides AI-driven building inspection technology using drones and was a winner in the 2019 edition of the HKTDC’s Start-up Express.

The cooperation with RaSpect helped Stonewood sign three technology-related cooperation agreements  at the Belt and Road Summit in September.

The first was with venture capital firm Abacus Ventures HK to establish a partnership in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Australia-New Zealand, including the solar power ventures.

In another MoU, infrastructure and building services subsidiary RCR agreed to collaborate with HKTDC Start-up Express 2021 laureate Dayta AI (HK) on a distribution partnership for smart retail technology investment in New Zealand. Dayta AI develops systems that analyse shop customers’ behaviour and uses AI to improve retail premises’ design and services based on customers’ experiences.

In the third MoU, RCR and pioneering robotics firm Rice Robotics (HK) established a distribution partnership for autonomous indoor service robots in New Zealand. AI-enabled Rice robots can deliver items inside buildings, disinfect premises, carry out security patrols and, equipped with chat facilities, guide visitors through buildings.  

The MoUs highlight Stonewood’s interest in Hong Kong-developed technology for New Zealand projects, using HKTDC as a platform to facilitate cooperation with Hong Kong firms.

Mr Chow and Mr Ko also joined the Roundtable on Green and Sustainable Investment Opportunities under the Belt and Road Initiative during the Summit and presented their renewable energy project.

Stonewood aims to build 20 solar farms throughout New Zealand by 2027, of which 10 are already under construction. The total development budget is estimated at about US$1 billion, of which US$36 million has been raised and US$50 million is under joint development agreements. The company will continue its fundraising activities and consider an HKEX listing.

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