Offshore renewable energy
The New Zealand Government has a goal to transform New Zealand into a more productive, sustainable, and inclusive economy. This includes the commitment to transition to a clean, green and carbon neutral economy by 2050.
Developing offshore renewable energy could provide opportunities to grow the economy by driving innovation in clean energy, creating new jobs, and providing export opportunities.
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In May 2022, Te Waihanga (New Zealand Infrastructure Commission) released Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy that included a recommendation to develop and establish a regulatory framework for offshore renewable energy.
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 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
Since the Strategy was released, the Government announced the development of regulatory settings to enable investment in offshore renewable energy (such as offshore wind farms) and innovation as an initiative in New Zealand’s first Emissions Reduction Plan. This was alongside other actions to accelerate the development of new renewable electricity generation across the economy.
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s role
Regulatory settings for offshore renewable energy are expected to be in place by 2024. The framework will set out how interested parties can explore and develop renewable energy resources in our territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone.
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.
MBIE is consulting on regulations in 2 steps to ensure any regulatory settings are carefully considered to be in the best interests of New Zealanders now and in the future, while enabling targeted research and exploration as early as possible:
- The first consultation focuses on identifying where offshore generation could potentially occur, and the regulatory settings necessary to enable prospective developers to undertake feasibility assessments on whether developing offshore energy infrastructure is achievable in our waters.
- The second consultation will focus on broader regulatory settings to enable infrastructure to be constructed, operated and decommissioned. This phase will also explore the settings required to transmit the generated energy to the national grid.
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.
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.
Between December 2022 and April 2023, MBIE consulted on proposed approaches to enabling feasibility studies for offshore renewable energy developments. MBIE is now analysing these submissions to inform policy recommendations to the Minister of Energy and Resources later this year.
MBIE is also currently developing options for broader regulatory settings for offshore renewable energy.
MBIE continues to engage regularly with iwi and 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.