Saturday, March 2, 2024

Offshore wind farm could power up to 500k homes

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The project’s plans include a large wind farm off the South Taranaki coast.
The offshore solar farm is expected to create about 600 jobs in the region and aligns with the government’s climate action goals.
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Several companies have teamed up to work on a major offshore solar wind farm project, which could power nearly half a million Kiwi homes.

Although still in its feasibility stage, the consortium of international and local firms have announced their plans to build a large wind farm off the South Taranaki coast, which would also create about 600 jobs.

The 900-megawatt joint venture is the first of four projects planned by Madrid-based BlueFloat Energy, Sydney-based Energy Estate and Taranaki-based Elemental Group.

All the partners have extensive experience in the energy sector: BlueFloat Energy is a leading offshore wind developer with a global pipeline of projects; Energy Estate is a developer of renewable energy and green hydrogen projects in Australia and NZ; and Elemental Group is one of the pioneers in the offshore wind sector in NZ. 

Last year the consortium launched “Haumoana – New Zealand Offshore Wind Capacity Building”, a report that highlighted NZ’s untapped potential for offshore wind development and the opportunities to establish local supply chains, as well as create enduring employment in the sector.

The consortium has now released visual simulations of how the farm should look from the shore, which would be located 22 kilometres off the coast and cover 230 square kilometres of ocean. Construction, once initiated, would see turbines fixed to the sea floor, however this isn’t expected to start until later in the decade.

Partnership director Justine Gilliland, who joined the project in May after resigning as CEO of Venture Taranaki, says the idea about the potential of offshore wind in NZ came about in April 2020.

“The momentum has built rapidly from the release of Venture Taranaki’s discussion paper and first national offshore wind forum in late 2020, to the Offshore Future Energy Forum run by Venture Taranaki and Ara Ake in late 2022,” Gilliland said. “I am excited by the potential of offshore wind energy for Aotearoa New Zealand’s low-emissions energy future.”

The potential of the project is a sentiment shared by Elemental Group director Nick Jackson. 

“BlueFloat, Elemental and Energy Estate have a shared vision for Aotearoa New Zealand. We all understand and are deeply committed to achieving net zero as soon as possible,” Jackson said.

“Our goal is to develop an offshore wind industry which puts iwi front and centre and ensures that all stakeholders get to participate rather than sit on the sidelines.”

While the government is yet to establish a regulatory framework for offshore renewable energy, offshore solar wind farms tie in with the government’s efforts to meet NZ’s targets of 100% renewable electricity generation by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. 

In May, Te Waihanga (NZ Infrastructure Commission) released Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy that included a recommendation to develop and establish a regulatory framework for offshore renewable energy. The framework is expected to be in place by 2024.

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