New Zealand Gov’t Plans to Have Offshore Renewables Regulations In Place by 2024, Temporarily Halts Granting Oil Exploration Permits

“Ensuring we have the right settings in place to encourage development of offshore renewable infrastructure will enable us to deliver net zero emissions by 2050”. Megan Woods, New Zealand Energy and Resources Minister

Megan Woods, New Zealand Minister of Energy and Resources; Photo: NZ Labour Party

New Zealand’s Government has put proposals for the development of offshore renewable energy up for public consultation as part of a plan to develop regulatory settings for offshore wind and other offshore renewables by 2024 and with an aim to have a net-zero energy system by 2050.

Namely, the Government has committed to developing regulatory settings by 2024 to enable investment in offshore renewable energy and innovation. Now, the authorities are working on setting the policy stage for the build-out of renewable energy projects in the country’s waters.

“Offshore renewables have the potential to produce the electricity needed to replace fossil fuels and support New Zealand’s transition to net zero by 2050”, Megan Woods, New Zealand Energy and Resources Minister, said.

“Technology like wind farms set off the coast of New Zealand can deliver a clean, stable source of renewable energy to help us become more energy-independent and avoid the fluctuations in cost of fossil fuels like oil and coal”.

On 15 December, New Zealand’s Energy and Resources Minister, Dr Megan Woods, announced that the Government was seeking public feedback on the development of offshore renewable energy infrastructure such as offshore wind farms.

The proposals now open to public comment at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) focus on the initial stages of offshore renewable energy development – the feasibility studies.

Since these exploratory studies can take several years, it is critical establishes the regulatory settings soon, according to the consultation document.

MBIE is asking for feedback on approaches to identifying suitable areas for developing offshore renewable energy and managing feasibility activities in the short-term.

The proposals set out options for how developers might assess feasibility. This could involve working in conjunction with one another or competing for permits that provide exclusive rights to do feasibility studies in an area. 

Public feedback, which can be filed until 14 April 2023, will be used to help inform policy decisions to enable early feasibility assessments to develop offshore renewable energy infrastructure in New Zealand.

Further public consultation will take place next year on the remaining segments of offshore renewable project development, including construction, operation, and decommissioning.

The potential environmental and cultural impacts will be closely examined before decisions are made about what projects could be constructed and this will require developers to work closely with iwi to understand these impacts, according to a press release from the Government.

Government Halts Oil Exploration Permitting, Energy Minister Spotlights Taranaki’s Offshore Renewables Potential

Minister Woods also announced that the Government was deferring decisions on future petroleum block offers. Under this decision, there will be no further petroleum exploration permits granted until early in the next Parliamentary term, beyond the process(es) already underway.

The Government announced an end to new offshore oil drilling back in 2018 and also committed to another three rounds of block offers. Two of the tenders, one for 2018 block offer and another for a 2019 block offer, have been completed.

For the last one, the 2020 block offer, which is the permit tender process for new drilling in onshore Taranaki, MBIE is expected to make a decision on whether to open the tender in the first quarter of 2023.

“I am not committing to any further block offers now. Decisions will be made early in the next Parliamentary term when there will be a better evidence base of future demand”, Megan Woods said.

“This Government is committed to scaling up the renewable energy sector to phase out harmful fossil fuels. While fossil fuels remain essential today, the needs of tomorrow need to be properly understood to support future generations of New Zealanders”.

In New Zealand, there are already several offshore wind projects being planned by developers, with initial feasibility assessments underway in Taranaki, Waikato, and Southland.

Earlier this year, NZ Super Fund and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) submitted a pre-activity notice to New Zealand’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to deploy a Floating Light Detection and Ranging device (FLiDAR) at a site where the partners plan to build a 1 GW offshore wind farm.

A joint venture between BlueFloat Energy, Energy Estate, and Elemental Group is also planning a 900 MW offshore wind farm there.

In August this year, the consortium between BlueFloat Energy, Energy Estate and Elemental Group announced that the consortium and other offshore wind developers entered into an agreement on the installation of the LiDAR on Beach Energy’s Kupe platform in the gas field located offshore South Taranaki.

Beach Energy will share the obtained data with multiple offshore wind developers to reduce the need for duplication.

Related Article

Back in 2020, a regional development agency from Taranaki published a paper on offshore wind possibilities in the region and called for further investigation of the offshore wind resource. The study found the waters off South Taranaki have an especially strong wind resource and that the area was also suitable for offshore wind from a bathymetric perspective.

The Government’s consultation document also highlights findings from a 2019 study of New Zealand’s offshore wind resource, which identified at least 7 GW of potential capacity from fixed-bottom offshore wind turbines in South Taranaki alone.

New Zealand’s Energy Minister has also emphasised the energy potential in Taranaki, in light of the block offer process for petroleum exploration permits that is underway.

“We firmly see Taranaki’s future as still being an energy future. New Zealand has high levels of renewable resources – so we are well positioned globally to create a sustainable energy system for generations to come”, Minister Woods said. “Ensuring we have the right settings in place to encourage development of offshore renewable infrastructure will enable us to deliver net zero emissions by 2050″.


Get in front of your target audience in one move! is read by thousands of offshore wind professionals daily.

Follow on: