NZ Super Fund and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) are exploring the potential for large-scale offshore wind energy in the South Taranaki Bight. A newly established jointly held company will manage the feasibility study and development.
CIP currently has NZD25 billion of assets under management, including about 30 GW of offshore wind projects under development, construction and operation across North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania. CIP’s investment in the South Taranaki project is part of a broader project development pipeline for CIP’s upcoming flagship fund CI V.
This project will be CIP’s first investment in Aotearoa New Zealand and follows the NZD58 billion NZ Super Fund’s NZD208 million commitments to CIP’s new Energy Transition Fund (CI ETF I) last year.
Subject to feasibility, an initial planned 1GW development would represent over 11% of New Zealand’s current electricity demand capacity and could power over 650,000 homes. The partners believe the project could later expand to 2 GW.
CIP and NZ Super Fund are in the early stages of project feasibility evaluation, which includes wind resource measurement, designing detailed environmental impact assessments with the support of local communities and experts, and examining industry potential and training needs for the Taranaki region. The partners will also focus on measures to ensure any project can coexist with other uses of the marine area.
“We are in the unique position of being able to attract best-in-class global partners on infrastructure developments that create positive environmental and social outcomes while delivering financial returns for New Zealanders through the Fund,” says NZ Super Fund CEO Matt Whineray. “The climate crisis is driving a global shift in how countries produce energy. We are focused on opportunities that allow us to apply our long-term investment capital to support this shift and the Fund’s own public commitment to being net zero by 2050. While this proposal is still at a very early, exploratory stage, we are confident it could help New Zealand’s transition away from fossil fuels and towards home-grown clean energy.”
CIP Partner Michael Hannibal says Aotearoa New Zealand’s world-class offshore wind fundamentals – high average wind speeds and relatively shallow waters close to transmission infrastructure – makes the project an exciting development for CIP.
“There is a global shift to clean and sustainable energy sources. New Zealand has a prime opportunity to utilise its natural resources, in this case offshore wind, to power the country into the future,” states Hannibal. “We look forward to working with NZ Super Fund, the NZ Government, local iwi and communities on this project. The New Zealand Government’s renewable energy ambitions will require strong partnerships to deliver large-scale clean energy projects over the coming decade. We can think of no better partner than the NZ Super Fund to help bring our expertise to New Zealand.”
CIP recently announced its ambition to have over NZD160 billion under management by 2030. Both CIP and NZ Super Fund are signatories of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. Project feasibility is being managed locally by Copenhagen Offshore Partners (COP). The feasibility work is expected to take approximately 24 months. Should the project proceed, and subject to relevant regulatory approvals, CIP and NZ Super Fund could deliver power by the end of the decade, making a significant contribution to New Zealand’s ambitions for 100% renewable energy by 2030.