Offshore renewable energy
The Government wants to enable the development of offshore renewable energy as Aotearoa New Zealand transitions to a low emissions future.
In late 2023, MBIE sought feedback on proposed regulations to enable renewable energy development at sea. This was the second discussion document for public consultation on proposals for offshore renewable energy regulation. Getting our regulatory settings right will allow development to begin as early as possible, while protecting the interests of New Zealanders now and in the future.
Public consultation on this document, as well as a package of discussion documents to advance New Zealand’s energy transition, ended on 2 November 2023. We received over 50 submissions in relation to offshore renewable energy development. Work is currently underway to analyse feedback and preferred approaches to regulating these technologies.
All submissions provide us with valuable insight to inform our ongoing work programme. We plan to analyse submissions and publish a summary report of the key themes.
We will provide further updates on our next steps in due course. As detailed in the consultation document, we will also be publishing submissions in full unless the submitter has requested specific redactions.
Between December 2022 and April 2023, MBIE consulted on proposed approaches to enabling feasibility studies for offshore renewable energy developments. MBIE received 59 submissions from a wide range of stakeholders and iwi, and a comprehensive summary of what we heard from this consultation can be found here:
In the first Emissions Reduction Plan released in May 2022, the Government committed to developing regulatory settings to enable investment in offshore renewable energy and innovation. This was alongside other actions to accelerate the development of new renewable electricity generation across the economy.
Offshore renewables such as wind generation have the potential to meet the needs of greater electricity demand in New Zealand. Their development could support meeting the Government’s targets of 100% renewable electricity generation by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
Developing a regulatory framework
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is progressing work on developing a regulatory framework for offshore renewable energy. This will include identifying regulatory gaps and options for balancing impacts on other values, rights, and interests in the marine area. The framework will set out how interested parties can explore and develop renewable energy resources in our territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone.
Potential offshore renewable projects are likely to be affected by a range of existing regulatory regimes, including those under the Resource Management Act, Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act, the Marine Mammals Protection Act, and Electricity Industry Act.
It will be important to consider how developments can be balanced with other uses of the marine space, as well as mitigating any potential environmental effects. MBIE will also look to draw on experiences in international jurisdictions where offshore renewable regulatory frameworks have already been established.
In July 2023, Government made some in principle decisions to give the sector greater clarity about how feasibility permits will be allocated to grant developers exclusive rights to test areas for development.
Cabinet agreed to progress with policy development that would enable feasibility permits to have a duration of seven years and be subject to use it or lose it provisions. Permits would need to be exercised within 12 months. If a developer is not actively progressing feasibility work and making progress against key milestones, it will risk losing its permit. To support these provisions, feasibility permit holders would be required to report regularly on their progress.
These provisions will mitigate the risk of any ocean banking behaviour.
MBIE is engaging regularly with those who have expressed an interest in developing offshore renewable projects in order to understand the potential opportunities and challenges a regulatory framework may have to address.
To be kept informed of these opportunities and to receive updates on progress please register your interest:
This page will be updated with significant milestones and developments as the work progresses.