Record number of new electricity generators connect to market

21 Dec 2023

Record generation

It was a record year for the electricity industry with five new renewable electricity generators offering power to the national wholesale electricity market - the highest number of new generators commissioned in a single year since the current market was established in 1996.

This new generation includes three wind farms plus two significant milestones for the New Zealand electricity industry – the first utility-scale solar farm and the first utility-scale battery energy storage system

Collectively the new generation units can offer 378 MW into the wholesale electricity market, which is managed by Transpower in its System Operator role. The additional capacity is around 4% of New Zealand’s almost 10,000 MW of total installed generation capacity.

Transpower General Manager Operations John Clarke said that electricity supply has been tight in recent years, and each new generation unit offering to the electricity market bolsters overall system security. 

“Demand for electricity is increasing across New Zealand and it’s critical that the industry continues to build and connect new generation to ensure New Zealanders can continue to access electricity when they need it,” he said. 

“In Transpower’s role as operator of the power system, we welcome the efforts from industry to connect this new generation. And we will need the pace of this work to accelerate if we are going to be able to continue to provide an affordable, reliable, and resilient electricity supply into the future.”

Transpower tracks New Zealand’s progress towards electrification of its economy through its six-monthly Whakamana i Te Mauri Hiko monitoring reports. A key input is Transpower’s connection pipeline, which includes enquiries to build new generation as well as new demand from major industrial customers and local lines companies.

Transpower General Manager Strategy & Customer Chantelle Bramley said the last six-monthly monitoring report published in October shows the new generation built this year is timely with significant new demand forecast in the years ahead. 

“It is essential for New Zealand that a large number of the generation projects in our connection pipeline progress quickly through consenting and commissioning if the electricity industry is to meet a forecast almost 70% increase in demand by 2050,” she said.

“We hope to see the record five generation connections this year repeated or even beaten over coming years as more and more connection enquiries convert into committed projects.”

Ms Bramley added that seizing New Zealand’s potential for electrification is a shared challenge for all Aotearoa.

“The electricity industry can’t do it alone,” she said. “We need continued support from local and central government as well as the investment community and all New Zealanders if we are going to be able to build and connect enough new generation to keep ahead of growing demand.”

The new generation units and their capacity are shown below.

Generation unitCompanyCapacity (MW)Fuel TypeStatus
HarapakiMeridian Energy176WindCommissioning in progress
Turitea SouthMercury NZ103WindComplete
Kaiwera DownsMercury NZ43WindComplete
Rotohiko BatteryInfratec33BatteryComplete
Kaitaia Solar FarmLodestone Energy23SolarCommissioning in progress