With a population of 4.4 million people and the world’s 5th largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), New Zealand/Aotearoa is essentially a maritime nation. It also has a high proportion of renewable electricity supply already but it is highly dependent on imported transport energy. There is also limited demand for energy at present. With a significant EEZ, one of the world’s largest, there are opportunities to become a “marine society” (Stevens & O’Callaghan, NZ Journal of the Royal Society, 2015, DOI:10.1080/03036758.2015.1014377).
SUPPORTING POLICIES FOR OCEAN ENERGY
NATIONAL STRATEGY AND TARGETS
The NZ Government has the goal of 90% renewable electricity supply by 2025. Beyond this, the Government’s overarching goal is to grow New Zealand’s economy and deliver greater prosperity, security and opportunities for all New Zealanders. The Government has set four key priorities in this regard, with the Government’s principal economic goal, and second key priority, being to build a more competitive and productive economy:
The NZ Environmental Protection Authority handles applications for marine activity offshore of the 12 nm limit under the Resource Management Act. Two recent landmark cases for resource exploitation went against the applicants serving notice on the high levels of certainty required around impacts (e.g. http://www.epa.govt.nz/EEZ/trans_tasman). Inshore of 12 nm exploitation applications are heard by regional authorities.
PUBLIC FUNDING PROGRAMMES
There are limited opportunities for funding specifically for marine renewable energies since the closure of the Marine Energy Deployment Fund in 2012. The energy portfolio in the Government R&D funding ministry MBIE (Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment) has in the past funded wave energy device development projects and tidal array resource and design projects. A project funded by the investigator-led Marsden Fund on large array scaling and design (PI Ross Vennell, Univ. Otago) is nearing completion.
SEA TEST SITES
NZ-MEC is a proposed R&D and test site off the Wellington coast. The establishment of NZ-MEC will be a catalyst to launching New Zealand’s marine energy supply chain into the fast growing global marine energy fabrication and servicing industry, creating prototypes and eventually export-oriented commercial device production opportunities for New Zealand companies. NZ-MEC will play a key facilitation role, connecting its device developer clients and their service needs with local marine energy supply chain participants such as design engineering firms, fabricators, offshore services and equipment suppliers. Identifying and exploiting niche opportunities by NZ-MEC and New Zealand’s marine energy supply chain will be key to achieving this outcome. It presently sits as a business case before the MBIE (Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment). The potential for a go-ahead lies with the possibility of an overseas technology developer trialling a new device.