New Zealand’s first marine power development is on track.
With consent in hand from the New Zealand government last year after five years, Crest Energy Limited is set to begin raising the expected $600 million in capital needed to develop a 200-megawatt (MW) tidal energy plant in the isolated West Coast Kaipara Harbour just north of New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, which is home to a majority of the population.
Crest will act as a developer for a tidal energy technology company, licensing their equipment.
Talk in the recent election of privatizing New Zealand’s currently publicly owned energy companies has Anthony Hopkins, director of Crest Energy, thinking that—together with his hard won consents from the government—potentially this could help in developing his project.
He told Maritime Journal this week: “Most of the hydro and geothermal generation is owned by the government in entities called State Owned Enterprises. The current government has plans to privatise a part of these which may have the effect of changing the overall market conditions. And there are other strong drivers for change over the next few years.”
Along with the possibility of international investment, and the site’s extraordinary energy potential, having the the consent is a key. The actively green voters in the tiny nation do not support giving permits for energy production and resource use lightly, even for sustainable clean energy.
As in most places in New Zealand, which depends on its clean green image for its tourism industry, many government bodies are actively involved in the management of the Kaipara Harbour, including environmental departments, councils, community groups and tangata whenua (the indigenous Maori “people of the land”).
The consent is for a “200-MW marine tidal turbine power station” housing up to 200 1-MW tidal energy turbines—even from different tidal energy companies—sited invisibly seven metres below the surface of the water in water 31-52 metres deep.
This could be any kind of device. Crest has not yet made a decision on the initial supplier or suppliers of turbines to be licensed for the project. It could even be that the Kaipara Harbour in New Zealand winds up being a test site of sorts, like the test facility proposed in Oregon.