Supporters defend offshore wind energy project near Taranaki coast

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The backers of a wind energy project off Taranaki’s coast believe that the high-priced technology they have will be cheaper once work begins – if it happens.

Offshore wind turbines. Wind farm on the sea horizon. Clean energy. Profile of three massive sustainable resource power generation turbines.

Photo: 123RF / Ian Dyball

The New Zealand Super Fund and a Danish investment firm are investigating the feasibility of a $5 billion, one gigawatt offshore wind farm, with the hope of it coming online by the end of the decade.

It came under fire last week from an investment analyst, who says it will not work due to the cost and size of the project, and as onshore wind is cheaper.

However, Giacomo Caleffi from Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, said the energy landscape will be different by 2030.

” Offshore wind prices around the world have been falling quite dramatically over the past few years, and we expect this trend to continue,” he stated.

Caleffi however, believes that onshore wind is the best option in New Zealand for a few more years.

“But it is important to realize that New Zealand has had an extensive pipeline of offshore wind projects for quite some time and not all have been completed.

” Some of these constraints are related to land usage. “

Caleffi stated that as more onshore wind spots become available, those that remain will be more expensive.

He stated that the costs of developing both technologies might “converge” towards the end the decade.

Caleffi stated that the two technologies should be considered two distinct products.

“Offshore and onshore don’t always produce the same amount, but the scales are different. “

In response to the other criticism that the project would be too big (1 GW is enough to power more than 650,000 homes), Caleffi said it would be needed by the time the project is up.

” It’s not going to happen all at once. We’re looking towards the end the decade. So clearly, the energy situation in New Zealand is always evolving. We do see a push toward electrification. We believe that 1GW will be required by the end the decade. “

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