Offshore wind a potential source of energy

12:15 pm on 3 April 2020

A new discussion paper highlights the potential of offshore wind for electricity generation in Taranaki.

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File photo. Photo: 123rf

The Venture Taranaki paper - an Energy Opportunity for Taranaki - identifies several locations especially in South Taranaki with promising potential based on the strength of the wind and a bathymetric - water depth - perspective.

It also said the region's experience in the marine energy environment also makes it a natural fit for offshore wind generation of electricity.

The paper also identified challenges including the infrastructure and processes required, the technologies involved and a 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.

Venture Taranaki chief executive Justine Gilliland said if New Zealand was to realise its low emissions energy goals and meet future goals the country needed to look beyond current models.

"Offshore wind generation is a technology already in effect internationally, but which hasn't been fully explored in a New Zealand context."

Gilliland said the discussion paper offered a first step in that process and supported the Energy Pathway Action Plan for Taranaki's 2050 Roadmap.

The paper was written in partnership with Taranaki-based Elemental Group.

Elemental Group's Andrew Revfeim said it explored both fixed and floating wind turbines and two development scenarios - a 200 Megawatt windfarm and an 800 Megawatt windfarm - utilising 7-8 Megawatt turbines.

The two scenarios would occupy around 30 square kilometres and 120 square kilometres respectively, with turbines spaced approximately one kilometre apart.

"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," Revfeim said.

The paper also highlighted areas potentially suitable for offshore fixed turbines.

A 1800km2 area off the South Taranaki coast could accommodate up to 12GW, it said while a 370 km2 area off North Taranaki could host 2.4GW. Together these could 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.

Gilliland said offshore wind was a considerable resource that if fully developed could provide sufficient, sustainable energy for New Zealand to meet its projected needs for the next three decades.