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Transpower exploring future role of NZ’s inter-island HVDC electricity link

The demand for electricity in New Zealand will grow as it takes the place of fossil fuels. Transpower is asking today what role the cable linking the North and South Islands should fulfil in the future electricity grid.

Transpower Executive General Manager Grid Development John Clarke said the cables that transport electricity across Cook Strait as part of the HVDC system will reach the end of their life in the early 2030s, so it’s timely to consider future possibilities.

“The need to replace the existing cables raises an opportunity to discuss with industry and other stakeholders the future role of the link in New Zealand’s power system and ensure it is fit-for-purpose,” Mr Clarke said.

The link connects the North and South Islands’ electricity systems between Benmore in the South Island and Haywards in the North Island, including undersea cables across the Cook Strait. It brings renewably generated electricity northwards and allows surplus North Island renewable generation to go south, as well as supporting system stability.

While a recently approved equipment upgrade at Haywards will boost the link’s capacity in the shorter term – with the exact timing subject to further engagement – the discussion paper, ‘Examining the purpose and future role of our HVDC link’, looks to its long-term future.

“We are planning infrastructure now for a future where electricity powers more of our transport and more of our industry in New Zealand. By 2050, we expect electricity use to have increased almost 70% compared to 2020, and we need to consider what role the HVDC link will play in that future,” Mr Clarke said.

The discussion paper is available on the Transpower website.

 

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