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Our offshore opportunity: Reflecting on a successful 2024 Offshore Renewable Energy Forum – Venture Taranaki

Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki, the regional development agency, held the fourth Offshore Renewable Energy Forum last week, in partnership with Ara Ake. The annual event brings together Iwi, key sector stakeholders, and the broader community to discuss the opportunities that offshore renewables present Taranaki and Aotearoa.

With “superb” wind conditions found off the South Taranaki Bight, local expertise in the energy sector, and a deep-water port, Taranaki is uniquely positioned to take advantage of offshore renewables.

However, many who attended were eager to discuss a pragmatic path ahead, acutely aware of the need to gain clarity on the specifics which would underpin this new industry.

Attendees heard from a range of industry experts, wind farm developers, community representatives, and policy makers including Simeon Brown, Minister for Energy, and Shane Jones, Minister for Oceans and Fisheries and of Resources.

Some of the key takeaways from the forum include:

  • A new National Impact Report, supported in part by Venture Taranaki, revealed that New Zealand will need to triple the volume of renewable energy generated to meet our net zero targets. Offshore wind offers one of the most credible pathways to increase generation at scale in conjunction with other technologies.

  • Additionally, the report conservatively suggests that offshore wind could contribute $50 billion to GDP between now and 2050, creating 10,000 jobs during the build-out phase, a further 2,000 ongoing jobs in operations and maintenance, and additional opportunities across the supply chain.

  • Subsidies to support offshore renewables were ruled out by Shane Jones under the current Government. However, developers stated that meaningful progression would require Government partnership and investment, enabled by agreements like Contracts for Difference, for example.

  • Infrastructure remains a major hurdle to the development of offshore renewables, with significant investment needed to upgrade the transmission grid and port facilities.

  • The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is continuing to progress work on the regulatory framework for offshore renewable energy. MBIE indicated that a two-step permit regime would be implemented by mid-2025, with feasibility permits to allocate exclusive space for feasibility assessments, followed by commercial permits that allow the activity to commence.

  • Developing a local skilled workforce to service the burgeoning renewable energy industry should be a key focus for the region and the country. Taranaki is in a unique position to transition the energy workforce and its existing ability to handle fuels and gas.

Venture Taranaki has long acknowledged the need for the region to take a leading role in transitioning the energy industry. Recognising offshore renewables as one of many opportunities, Venture Taranaki ignited the discussion in 2020 with the release of the Offshore Wind Discussion Paper, which attracted international attention, later that year hosting the inaugural Offshore Renewable Energy Forum, in conjunction with other partners, to formally talk about the topic for the first time in New Zealand. Venture Taranaki was also instrumental in the establishment of Ara Ake, the Government-sponsored agency focused on accelerating New Zealand’s transition to a low-emissions energy future, by securing $27 million in funding.

“Our role has been to ignite and progress the conversation around offshore renewables, to get the right people in the room together, commission critical research, and involve the community as we assess future possibilities of our region”, says Kelvin Wright, Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki Chief Executive.

“We’re proud of how much momentum has been gained in this space, and particularly how we have encouraged appropriate engagement between industry, Iwi, the community, and Government. It’s clear that there are challenges ahead, but there are also huge opportunities for our region. We’re looking forward to navigating these and collaborating with all stakeholders where possible.”

Venture Taranaki will continue to advocate for regime development concerning offshore renewables, as well as investigating critical pathways in parallel opportunities like hydrogen and Power to X

 

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