Taranaki has been at the heart of New Zealand’s energy industry – past, present and is playing a key role in its future.
Since New Zealand’s first oil discovery in the 1860s and the first major commercial oil and gas find at Kapuni in 1959, Taranaki has played a pivotal role supporting the energy needs of the nation. The giant gas field, Māui, located offshore Taranaki, although now in its twilight, was one of the largest offshore gas fields in the world at the time. Significant discoveries, all based in Taranaki, and their subsequent development, has led to numerous fields coming on-stream, such as Tui, Maari, Mangahewa, Cheal, Kupe and Pohokura. This has led to the development of energy infrastructure, processing facilities, an extensive supply chain and range of commercial activities which has benefitted the Taranaki economy and the country.
The energy industry contributes over 7,000 jobs and underpins the nation’s energy supply and security. Natural gas from Taranaki’s fields accounts for around 20% of New Zealand’s primary energy supply. It provides instant heat, energy and hot water supply for over 245,000 New Zealand households as well as more than 10,000 commercial users such as restaurants, hotels, greenhouses and hospitals. The single biggest user of natural gas is Methanex, also based in Taranaki, who use it as a feedstock to produce methanol for export. Industrially, natural gas is also used to make urea for use on farms.
Taranaki has evolved extensive capabilities to underpin energy exploration, production and maintenance work programmes as well as undertake major energy projects and shutdowns. Taranaki is a key player in energy generation and distribution in New Zealand. The head offices of many energy companies are based in the region, such as Powerco and Firstgas, along with specialist service and supply companies, including freight, logistics, fabrication, technical, professional services and consultancies as well as environmental and health and safety expertise. The region is renowned for its world class engineering design and project management skills, which tackles on and offshore fabrication and construction, and the provision of a leading health and safety culture.
More Recent Developments and New Energy
Taranaki’s foothold in the energy industry extends well beyond the oil and gas industry and the region is uniquely positioned to lead New Zealand’s transition to a low-emissions energy future. The region is New Zealand’s largest exporter of energy; and energy contributes a quarter of the region’s economic output.
The tremendous wind resource in the south of the region is being developed into a significant onshore wind farm in Waverley which, will ultimately comprise 31 wind turbines, generating 455 GWh, enough power for 70,000 homes and is contributing to the nation’s growth in renewable energy.
The offshore winds of Taranaki also have the potential for development and is the subject of a recent discussion paper produced by Venture Taranaki, which is attracting international investor interest. An offshore wind forum was held in December 2020.
The region is also at the forefront of new hydrogen developments. In 2018 the Taranaki Hydrogen Roadmap was published by key regional stakeholders and commercial interests, and since that time there has been significant project progress in realising some of these developments. Hiringa is currently developing a 16MW four turbine development near Kapuni to supply power for a green urea project with Ballance Agri-nutrients.
In January 2020 Hiringa Energy and Waitomo Group announced a partnership to co-locate Hiringa’s hydrogen production and refuelling stations on existing Waitomo truck stops. In August 2020 it was announced that funding of $20m had been provisionally approved from Government to support the establishment of Phase 1 of a hydrogen refuelling network.
First Gas has a study underway concerning the potential of transporting hydrogen through the gas network. In November 2020 Firstgas and Hiringa Energy also announced a collaboration agreement.
Ara Ake was launched in July 2020. The Government has allocated $7 million per year towards the operation of Ara Ake (formerly the National New Energy Development Centre) in Taranaki. The mission of Ara Ake is to facilitate New Zealand’s energy transition to a low-emissions future through fostering a new energy eco-system, leveraging national and global knowledge and expertise to reduce the time, cost and risk associated with the development and commercialisation of new energy innovation.
Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT) is also building its reputation as the national vocational training centre for new energy. It has employed an energy specialist, undertaken a range of research and presented at a number of conferences. WITT and Ara Ake are also supporting the EVolocity Build Series, where students design, build and compete in an electric vehicle.
Taranaki’s energy expertise is being increasingly used across the spectrum of energy needs including geothermal, hydro, wind and wave/marine energy. Technologies and expertise from the region are being sought internationally and is actively engaged in research and development concerning future energy applications.
Energy Sector Support
Venture Taranaki is a long-term supporter of the energy sector, and we continue to work with key industry players as the sector evolves.
Investment and Growth Opportunities
There are further opportunities for companies and investment projects seeking to develop new energy solutions for New Zealand and export to leverage, establish, pilot and connect with the Taranaki’ region’s natural energy resource, skills, networks and energy infrastructure.
In addition to the presence of Ara Ake, the Government has also allocated a further $50 million for research into cutting-edge energy technology, including organic photovoltaics, super conductors, nanotechnologies and inductive power.
The energy sector will not be immune to the effects of COVID-19 and the global oil price reductions, but there are significant opportunities to accelerate the pursuit of innovation in this field, with renewables and energy innovation and diversification a key focus, cementing Taranaki as a global leader in new energy development.
Further information about New Zealand’s current energy prices is available on the Energy Market Overview website and the Wholesale Information Trading System (WITS) website.
Wind generation: potential onshore and offshore wind electricity generation potential.
Renewables technology: build existing technologies and pioneer new ones, including wave, solar and biofuel.
Hydrogen: Hydrogen production and distribution infrastructure. Downstream hydrogen, via manufacturing industrial products traditionally made with natural gas, such as urea and methanol. Read the H2 Taranaki Roadmap Report.
Electricity technology and products: new products and services for electricity consumers looking to generate their own electricity, smartly manage their consumption, and transition to electric vehicles; technologies to support the transition of the electricity market for electricity infrastructure companies.
Decommissioning: As Taranaki transitions to a new energy future and current oil and gas wells reach the end of their productive life, decommissioning of offshore assets will need to be undertaken.