Fast-tracked wind farms will cut emissions and create jobs

Energy and Resources Environment

The Government is accelerating New Zealand’s switch to clean renewable energy by fast-track referral of three wind farm projects for approval by consenting panels.

Together, the three projects would generate about as much electricity as the Clyde Dam, Megan Woods said.

 “We’re incredibly well positioned globally to harness wind power, both onshore and offshore.” Megan Woods said.

“When it comes to offshore generation, our location matters. The least-windy sites in Zealand are considered to have better wind energy potential than the windiest site in Australia.”

If approved, the wind farms would cut about 150 million kilograms of carbon emissions and create up to 840 construction jobs. The proposed wind farms, located in Manawatu, near Auckland and in Southland, would generate about 419 megawatts of electricity at peak output.

“In comparison, New Zealand’s third largest hydroelectric dam at Clyde produces about 432 Mw. Generating the same amount of electricity using fossil fuels would create about 150 million kilograms of CO2 emissions.

“It is vital we support this type of renewable energy development to help meet our national and international emissions reduction goals, decarbonise our economy, reduce costs to household and businesses and improve our national energy resilience.”

The fast-track consenting process, a temporary measure under the COVID-19 recovery legislation, was a key part of the Government’s strategy to accelerate economic recovery, boost jobs and speed up emissions reductions.

“Of 108 referred projects, 15 were for green energy infrastructure,” David Parker said.

“Fast-track consenting will become permanent through the Natural and Built Environments Bill that will become law this month. Fast track reduced consenting time by an average of 18 months per project, saving infrastructure builders time and money. 

If approved for construction, the fast-tracked solar, geothermal and wind renewable electricity projects could create about 3500 construction jobs nationwide and employ more than 350 fulltime staff when completed.

“Retaining the fast-track consenting process will be crucial to reducing emissions and improving our economic security by increasing domestic renewable energy generation.”  

In addition to the three wind farms, nine solar farm projects have had fast-track referral to expert consenting panels since 2021. If approved, they could add 1.87 million solar panels to the national total and generate 1,147 Mw of energy at peak output.

Proposed geothermal and hydrogen projects in the North Island have also been referred and could add 64 Mw to the national grid during peak output if approved.

Editor’s notes: the three referred wind farm projects

  • The largest referred project is the Southland Wind Farm. Applicant Contact Energy’s proposal is to operate 55 wind turbines, generating 300 Mw at peak output, on a site east of Wyndham. If approved, the project will create an estimated 240 construction jobs and 14 fulltime workers would operate the completed wind farm.
  • The 18-turbine Waiuku Wind Farm near Auckland would produce 80 Mw at peak output. It could create up to 330 jobs during construction and would be run by 30 fulltime staff when operational.
  • Applicant NZ Windfarms Limited wants to operate nine turbines at the Te Rere Hau Wind Farm near Woodville to generate to 39 Mw at peak output. Construction will be at Aokautere, south-east of Palmerston North, and will require up to 270 workers. About 30 fulltime staff would operate the wind farm when completed.