Transpower consulting on Renewable Energy Zones

28 Feb 2022

Consulting on site

Transpower today launched a national consultation on the concept of Renewable Energy Zones and a potential pilot project in Northland.

Transpower General Manager External Affairs, Raewyn Moss, said Renewable Energy Zones (REZs) are a way of providing electricity infrastructure that lifts the amount of renewable energy available to New Zealanders.

“We want to hear from industry, iwi, communities, and others who are interested, about whether the REZ concept is right for New Zealand,” Ms Moss said.

A REZ is a way of connecting new renewable electricity generation and major electricity users. The costs required to upgrade networks to accommodate these new connections can be shared across connecting parties through a REZ. This can reduce the barriers to connecting renewable generation and be an effective way to quickly increase renewable energy use. 

“Transpower is keen to work collaboratively to explore and potentially enable this kind of infrastructure investment. To test the concept, we’ve worked with Top Energy and Northpower – Northland’s electricity distribution businesses — to propose an initial pilot REZ in Northland.

“Northland is a region where, based on current enquiries, there is the potential to add up to 2GW of power into the electricity network. That’s enough renewable electricity to power up to 375,000 households.”

Ms Moss said Transpower, Northpower and Top Energy are all receiving very high numbers of enquiries about building network connections for new renewable energy generation in Northland, yet the current infrastructure wouldn’t allow that new electricity to be carried to where it is needed.

“Many other regions in New Zealand also have the potential for new renewable electricity generation and a REZ could work in many locations. A REZ could provide a way to share the costs of connecting, and encourage more renewable generation in an area,” Ms Moss said.

The consultation papers highlight both potential benefits and challenges to setting up a REZ including social, economic, environmental and regulatory considerations. They explore options for creating Renewable Energy Zones that will sit alongside, and align with, regulatory settings including the Transmission Pricing Methodology. 

“We want to understand whether this is a path New Zealand should pursue, and we also want to understand who the potential collaborators on REZs in New Zealand could be.”

Consultation is open until 5.00pm, Friday 8 April. See the project page for more details.

Background — Renewable Energy Zones

A Renewable Energy Zone is a location of investment, at the edges of an interconnected electricity grid, to enable renewable electricity to power more homes, community facilities and businesses. In a Renewable Energy Zone, multiple generators or major electricity users agree together to co-locate to enable cost-effective investments in electricity infrastructure.

The purpose of these investments in any one zone can be

  • to bring new renewable generation onto the grid,
  • to help large industrial energy users connect into the grid and electrify their operations, or,
  • a combination of the above.

The consultation papers explore options for creating Renewable Energy Zones that sit alongside, and align with regulatory settings including the Transmission Pricing Methodology (TPM). The Electricity Authority is currently considering aspects of the first mover disadvantage through the new TPM, which is in its final stage, with the Authority’s decision on the TPM expected to be announced in April. 

For further information, please contact:

Rachael Drummond, Senior Corporate Communications Advisor, 021 394 803.