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Promising Offshore Wind Potential Identified in New Zealand

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By The Maritime Executive 04-11-2020 08:45:09

New Zealand regional development agency Venture Taranaki has released a discussion paper which highlighted offshore wind as an important energy opportunity for the region and the nation.

The paper, Offshore Wind – An Energy Opportunity for Taranaki, identifies that locations off the Taranaki coastline on the North Island which 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. 

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 200MW wind farm and an 800MW wind farm - using 7-8MW turbines. 

The two scenarios were explored for both South Taranaki and North Taranaki waters and showed that they would occupy around 30 square kilometers and 120 square kilometers respectively with turbines spaced approximately one kilometer apart.

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

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

“These scenarios were chosen on the basis that a 200MW wind farm would be indicative of a minimum size that could likely be developed and connected to the New Zealand electricity grid, while an 800MW wind farm 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.

Large variable renewable power generation of the scale outlined in the Venture Taranaki paper (200MW-800MW) would lend itself to flexible large-scale green hydrogen production in conjunction with electricity generation. This hydrogen could be used as zero emission fuel for heavy transport fleets such as trucks, buses, rail and ferries, or as feedstock in making industrial chemicals such as green methanol or ammonia. Local energy company Hiringa Energy is already planning to produce green ammonia using onshore wind power as part of a joint venture partnership with Ballance Agri-Nutrients at Kapuni. The project is being supported by $19.9 million in government funding.

Hiringa Energy CEO, Andrew Clennett, says, “We see tremendous potential to develop this resource for our domestic energy needs, allowing material transition of our industrial processes and transport to run on renewable electricity and green hydrogen.

“A wind resource of this scale, in such close proximity to existing energy infrastructure, export facilities and a skilled workforce also lends itself to the export market and would position New Zealand in a commanding position to produce and export green hydrogen in the form of green ammonia, methanol or pure hydrogen to countries such as Japan and South Korea who are both openly looking to green hydrogen to move them into a low emissions future.”

If fully developed, offshore wind could provide sufficient, sustainable energy for New Zealand to meet its projected needs for the next three decades. It could also open opportunities for energy exports.

The discussion paper is available here.