Meridian Energy has announced a target of bringing seven new large-scale renewable generation projects into operation around Aotearoa in the next seven years.
Chief Executive Neal Barclay made the announcement at Meridian’s Annual Shareholder Meeting, noting the government’s long-term target of net zero emissions by 2050 would require around $30 billion of investment in new renewable generation.
“We’ve set an ambitious target because the scale of the challenge is enormous. Achieving seven new renewable projects of scale by 2030 would be the largest building programme undertaken by a New Zealand generator in decades.
“For Meridian to do its share of the heavy lifting in Aotearoa’s transition to net zero, we’ll need to build the equivalent of 20 large wind farms in the next 28 years. Our seven-year target will put us firmly on track to achieve the necessary outcomes,” Barclay says.”
Barclay said Meridian had a range of development options including wind, solar and grid-scale batteries, and the company was increasing investment to build its portfolio of future options around the country.
“The first of our seven projects, Harapaki wind farm in Hawke’s Bay will become operational next year and will power up to 70,000 homes once complete,” Barclay says.
Meridian will also complete the construction of a grid-scale battery and solar farm at Ruakaka in Northland in 2024 and has secured a second battery option site at Bunnythorpe near Palmerston North.
“Meridian’s renewable pipeline is now bigger and more promising than ever. We’re also preparing to lodge the consent application for a new wind farm at Mount Munro in the Wairarapa early next year,” Barclay says.
Aotearoa currently produces 40 terawatt hours of electricity per year, but Transpower estimates this will need to increase to 70 terawatt hours with the electrification of transport, industrial process heat and other sectors. Meridian’s Climate Action Plan, published this year, identifies 5,400 gigawatt hours of future buildable options, all of which will be needed to support its customers to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
“We’re already targeting the conversion of around 600-gigawatt hours of industrial heat from fossil fuels to electric. As this work accelerates, the need to get new renewable projects up and running becomes more urgent,” Barclay says.
Barclay also singled out reform of the country’s resource management framework as critical to accelerating the massive amount of new renewable energy generation needed by 2050.
“Local environmental impacts must be balanced with the positive climate benefits of renewable energy projects. We’re working closely with the government to ensure the new framework allows consenting authorities to take these benefits seriously alongside local interests and concerns,” Barclay says.
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