NZ Wind Energy Conference

Energy and Resources

I always look forward to this event, having been a long, ardent enthusiast of the wind energy sector. I believe it will be a linchpin in our efforts to tackle the climate crisis, reach our net-zero carbon goals, and improve our energy security with clean energy independence – removing our vulnerability to energy prices that are dictated by global markets, and all the while providing valuable highly skilled jobs.

For example, Mt Cass Wind Farm, in the South Island, currently in the construction pipeline, estimates the construction phase alone will provide 100 jobs. The winds of change continue to blow.

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Accelerating the Transformation’, building on 2021's theme of ‘Rising to the Challenge’.

In line with this theme, I want to talk about the gains we’ve made in the wind energy sector, look at how we build on our achievements, and to say thank-you, as you represent one of our industrial success stories.

Last year we saw two large new wind farms constructed at Waipipi and Turitea, the same year when we achieved our highest share of primary energy from renewable sources, with electricity generated from wind in New Zealand reaching the highest on record, increasing by 15 per cent.

Currently there are two windfarms in the construction pipeline which have benefited from at least $595 million of private investment. Mt Cass, which I’ve just mentioned, and Harapaki. Together they will have the capacity to power 110,000 average households.

So how do we build on our success?

The New Zealand Government has a long term plan to transform the nation into a more productive, sustainable, and inclusive economy. This includes our commitment to transition to a clean, green and carbon neutral economy by 2050 and our targets of 100 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2030.  

As we look to meet our targets, offshore renewables such as wind generation have considerable potential.

Almost $18 million over three years was allocated in the last Budget to support the transition to a low carbon economy through the development of an energy strategy, a regulatory framework for offshore renewable energy, and a roadmap for the development and use of hydrogen. We want to provide opportunities to grow the economy by driving innovation in clean energy and creating new jobs.

I recognise that in order to reap the benefits from offshore renewable energy, such as offshore wind, it is important to give the industry certainty about future prospects in our Ocean territory, and provide confidence to prospective developers to make the large-scale investments needed to develop the sector. We hear you.

The Government plans to develop a regulatory framework to ease the path for offshore renewable energy and we expect to have this in place in 2024.

We have been engaging regularly with potential developers to understand the great opportunities that are out there, as well as the challenges. I am also pleased to see industry being proactive. Offshore renewable projects are likely to have implications for at least six existing regulatory regimes, as well as interaction with Te Tiriti o Waitangi. I don’t need to tell you that balancing offshore wind developments with other uses of the marine space, mitigating potential environmental effects and bringing along communities will be crucial to our success, so it is important we take time to get the regulations right.

The Emissions Reduction Plan has also committed to a review of existing national direction tools for renewable generation and electricity infrastructure - to determine whether and how, resource consent processes can be improved to support decarbonisation.

We are currently progressing work on how the new resource management system can better enable renewable energy projects.

This work will also need to align with the ongoing resource management reform and regulatory development relating to the use and protection of our marine space. Any regulatory tools or frameworks will also need to be developed in partnership with iwi.

Officials are currently drafting a discussion document outlining options to strengthen national direction for renewable electricity generation and electricity transmission.

The amendments will both support decision making on renewable energy projects under the Resource Management Act in the short term, and feed into the development of a national direction in the future.

The intent of policy amendments is to:

  • Recognise the significant scale and pace of renewable generation required to meet our targets.
  • Give greater weight to renewable energy and climate change mitigation, alongside other matters of national importance
  • Help to resolve conflicts with other matters of national significance
  • Provide clearer and more certain national direction for consenting for renewable electricity generation and transmission projects.

The Government plans to engage with the industry soon to seek feedback on these amendments and we recognise the need to move quickly. I know momentum is already building and it is great to see a growing number of international and domestic businesses taking a lead in this space.

My officials are in already in conversation with our counterparts around the world. Over in Australia, the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act came into force in June this year.

This all presents a unique opportunity to get the policy right and

is particularly exciting given the scale of transformation and electricity generation possible. It also makes cold hard economic sense clean energy is a boom market – bringing jobs and investment and growth. I am looking forward to exploring these opportunities and associated challenges in the coming years and continuing the conversation with you all.

Finally, I want to thank you all for your participation and engagement. I know things have been tough at times, but our economic recovery from COVID-19 is progressing well. Now is the time to seize the opportunities emerging in the recovery while becoming stronger.

I look forward to working with you this year and hope that we continue to successfully work together in 2023.

Ngā mihi nui, thank you.