A proposed giant wind farm could power 11% of New Zealand

New Zealand’s pension fund is prepared to invest NZ $ 2.5 billion ($ 1.75 billion) in an offshore wind farm that could meet 11% of the nation’s energy demand and help it transition away from fossil fuels.

The NZ Superannuation Fund is partnering with Denmark’s Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners to explore the potential for “large-scale offshore wind energy” off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. If the project proceeds, the initial development would cost NZ $ 5 billion, Conor Roberts, a spokesman at NZ Super, said on Wednesday.

“Both entities will put in half, with the option of bringing in future investors later down the track,” Roberts told Bloomberg. “If it goes through the right consenting process and the government sets up a regulatory framework for the project, we could have it up and running by the end of the decade.”

The wind farm would initially aim to generate 1 gigawatt of electricity, representing about 11% of New Zealand’s current demand and enough to power over 650,000 homes. The partners believe the project could later expand to 2 gigawatts and help the country meet its goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2030. New Zealand has also committed to net zero emissions by 2050.

A feasibility study is expected to take two years.

New Zealand has high average wind speeds and relatively shallow waters close to transmission infrastructure, said Michael Hannibal, a partner at Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

“There is a global shift to clean and sustainable energy sources,” Hannibal said in a statement. “New Zealand has a prime opportunity to utilize its natural resources, in this case offshore wind, to power the country into the future.”

Roberts said the NZ $ 58 billion NZ Super Fund, which was established to help pay New Zealand’s future pension needs, is actively looking to “reduce our portfolio’s exposure to carbon emissions.”

The wind project, planned for the South Taranaki Bight, would create jobs and help the Taranaki region transition away from oil and gas, he said.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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