Offshore wind is an important energy opportunity for the region and the nation.

A new discussion paper released by regional development agency Venture Taranaki has highlighted offshore wind as an important energy opportunity for the region, and the nation, and calls for further investigation of the resource. 

Read the report here.

The paper, Offshore Wind – An Energy Opportunity for Taranaki, identifies that locations off the Taranaki coastline, especially South Taranaki, offer a promising potential for generating electricity from offshore wind, based on the strength of the wind resource and suitability from a bathymetric - water depth - perspective. Taranaki’s deep experience in the marine energy environment also makes it a natural fit for this increasingly-deployed renewable energy source.

The paper highlights opportunities and hurdles in making such an option a reality for New Zealand, including the infrastructure and processes required, consumer demand and economics, the technologies involved, international developments, and the broad range of social, environmental, regulatory and other considerations which would need to be assessed in more detail to enable this new energy source for New Zealand to be developed. 

“If New Zealand is to realise its low emission energy goals and meet future energy needs, we will need to look beyond current efforts,” says Venture Taranaki chief executive Justine Gilliland. 

“Offshore wind generation is a technology already in effect internationally, but which hasn’t been fully explored in a New Zealand context. This discussion paper offers a first step in that process and supports the Energy Pathway Action Plan for Taranaki’s 2050 Roadmap.”

The investigation by Venture Taranaki and Taranaki-based Elemental Group explored both fixed and floating wind turbines as well as two indicative development scenarios - a 200 MW windfarm and an 800 MW windfarm - utilising 7-8 MW turbines. 

“These scenarios were chosen on the basis that a 200 MW windfarm would be indicative of a minimum size that could likely be developed and connected to the New Zealand electricity grid, while an 800MW windfarm is indicative of what could be developed in association with a large scale industrial customer, for example a green hydrogen production plant,” says Andrew Revfeim of Elemental Group.

“Offshore wind energy generation is a proven technology being rapidly developed and harnessed internationally, while at the same time costs are reducing significantly.”

“The two scenarios were explored for both South Taranaki and North Taranaki waters, and showed that they would occupy around 30km2 and 120km2 respectively with turbines spaced approximately 1km apart.”

The paper also highlighted areas potentially suitable for offshore wind utilising fixed turbines. A 1,800km2 area off the South Taranaki coast could accommodate up to 12GW, while a 370 km2 area off North Taranaki could host 2.4GW. Together these would almost effectively double New Zealand’s electricity supply.

If floating wind turbines were utilised, a further 14,000 km2 of suitable area could be developed, with the potential to deliver an additional 90GW for industrial application. 

“This is a considerable resource and if fully developed could provide sufficient, sustainable energy for New Zealand to meet its projected needs for the next three decades,” says Justine. 

“It could also open opportunities for energy exports and help New Zealand and Taranaki contribute to the reduction of global emissions. It is an energy resource that has the potential to be globally significant.”

“We expect that there will be a range of responses to the idea of wind energy generation off our coastline, and many steps would be required before any developments occur.” 

Such steps range from solving the fundamental engineering issues of fixing turbines to the sea floor and managing the impacts of strong swell on foundations, to support vessel provision during construction and maintenance to regulatory implications, the extensive environmental considerations, and the economics of investment, as well as cultural and community buy-in.
“There is a real opportunity to grow offshore wind as a renewable energy resource that could provide large quantities of low-cost clean energy, while using many of the complementary skills and resources that service the existing energy sector in New Zealand,” Justine says.
“In terms of skills, bathymetry and wind resource, Taranaki is perfectly positioned to lead New Zealand in the development of offshore wind energy generation. This paper presents the first step of many by identifying the resource and proposing its potential to make a significant and positive impact on New Zealand’s energy landscape.” 

Read the report here.

About Venture Taranaki
Venture Taranaki is Taranaki’s regional development agency and takes both strategic and tactical approaches to helping the region achieve its potential. A council-controlled organisation of New Plymouth District Council, Venture Taranaki comprises integrated teams working across strategy and sector development, enterprise growth, and destination promotion, which together work to achieve a more resilient and sustainable regional economy that supports the wellbeing of our people and our environment.

About Elemental Group
Elemental Group is an international energy services group dedicated to providing better energy solutions to clients. Elemental Group provides a full range of professional geoscience, science, engineering, environmental, project management, commercial and financial modelling services for the energy sector. Over the past 5 years, Elemental has managed renewable energy projects for clients in over 20 countries.