New Zealand Offshore Wind Limited (NZOWL) congratulates Firstgas on outlining a plan to replace NZ’s fossil fuel use with hydrogen by 2050. As they say in their report, ‘This study is a good first step’, and we agree, this will need to be a collaborative effort.

Supplying 160 PJ of energy in 2050 (32 PJ by 2035) through green hydrogen in a sustainable manner while ensuring security of supply will require a substantial additional amount of renewable energy to be supplied from a diverse generation mix.

The stated capacity of renewable electricity generation required in the report is somewhat daunting – 18 GW of wind and 13.5 GW of solar by 2050, somewhat less if hydrogen storage becomes possible at scale.

Assuming 6 MW turbines are installed onshore (largest in NZ currently 4.3 MW), that’s up to an additional 600 turbines required by 2035 and 3000 required by 2050.

A modest 1 GW capacity of offshore wind would require sixty-seven 15 MW turbines. While presently more expensive to install, these turbines would be deployed in a wind regime that is typically more energetic and relatively uncorrelated with the winds experienced by onshore turbines in NZ, strengthening the deliverability of renewable wind generation into both the electricity grid and hydrogen production. This would both increase security of supply and decrease impacts onshore by reducing the area of land required for wind and potentially solar generation.

Offshore Taranaki was assessed in a 2019 Venture Taranaki report as having a globally significant wind resource and generation potential in the order of ~ 100 GW, utilising both fixed and floating turbines.

As well as assisting with decarbonising NZ, an offshore wind development in Taranaki would provide a readily scalable pathway for the region to truly transition; industry that has supported offshore oil and gas for over 50 years leveraging this hard-won expertise to support renewable energy generated through harnessing offshore wind.