NZ Super Fund and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners to explore development of offshore wind energy in Aotearoa New Zealand

March 29, 2022 | Renewables | Energy Facts Staff Writer | 2min

NZ Super Fund and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) are working in partnership to explore 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 is with its current NZD25 billion of assets under management the global leader in greenfield renewable energy and offshore wind including ~30GW 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 commitment to CIP’s new Energy Transition Fund (CI ETF I) last year.

Subject to feasibility, an initial planned 1GW development would represent over 11 per cent of New Zealand’s current electricity demand capacity and could power over 650,000 homes. The partners believe the project could later expand to 2GW, helping to meet strong projected growth in demand for electricity in New Zealand.

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.

The success of offshore wind in South Taranaki will require active engagement and partnering with a wide variety of key stakeholders, including local iwi[1], businesses and communities. The partners have had positive initial discussions and look forward to furthering the relationships with iwi and other stakeholders as early feasibility work continues.

CIP and NZ Super Fund have welcomed a recent announcement by Minister of Energy, Megan Woods, that Government would begin work on a new regulatory regime for offshore renewable energy in 2022.

NZ Super Fund CEO Matt Whineray says offshore wind energy has the potential to be an attractive commercial opportunity that aligns with the NZ Super Fund’s climate change investment strategy and focus on sustainable finance, as well as its desire to invest in large-scale New Zealand infrastructure.

“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. We are delighted to be working with CIP, a global leader in green energy transition.”

“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. 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.”

Mr. Hannibal says the Taranaki region has the skills and know-how to make offshore wind a success.

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), which is a leading and experienced provider of project development, construction management, and operational management services to offshore wind projects. 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 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

Demand for electricity is expected to grow over the coming decades as New Zealand shifts from fossil fuel energy to renewable forms. For instance, electricity grid operator Transpower believes demand will grow from ~43 TWh (terawatt hours) today to 70 TWh by 2050 primarily from electrifying transport and process heat. The offshore wind project also fits in with New Zealand’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

About Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners P/S is the world’s largest dedicated fund manager within greenfield renewable energy investments, and a leader in offshore wind globally. At COP26 CIP announced the ambition and a roadmap for increasing and accelerating its role in delivering on the energy transition by deploying EUR 100bn into green energy investments by 2030.

CIP manages nine funds and has approx. EUR 16 billion of assets under management focused on investments in energy infrastructure, including offshore wind, onshore wind, solar PV, biomass and energy-from-waste, transmission and distribution, reserve capacity and storage, and other energy assets like Power-to-X. Today CIP’s funds have approximately 100 international institutional investors from the Nordics, Continental Europe, the UK, Israel, Asia, Australia, and North America and multi-lateral organizations e.g. EIB. CIP has approximately 300 employees and offices in Copenhagen, London, Hamburg, Utrecht, New York, Tokyo, Singapore and Melbourne. The Sunfire investment will be part of CIP’s Energy Transition Fund I, which focuses on Power-to-X and other next generation renewable technologies in order to facilitate the decarbonization of hard-to-abate sectors such as steel, agriculture and transportation.