A range of innovative development in the renewable energy and electrification sectors is encouraging, with a number of domestic developments set to contribute to various forms of renewable energy.

The Government has recently taken a $2 million equity stake in Taupō based company, Geo40. This is in addition to its previous $15 million investment in the company, which is developing world-leading low-emissions technology for the recovery of lithium from geothermal brine. Geo40 Chief Executive and Managing Director, John Worth, joined us last year at INZ’s webinar on Infrastructure for Low Emissions Vehicles to discuss the project.

Lithium is a key component in electric vehicle batteries, and the potential for domestic demand was bolstered by the mid-February passing of the Government’s Land Transport (Clean Vehicles) Amendment Act.

In solar, Harmony Energy NZ has been granted access to the fast-track consenting process. The company is seeking to build what would be New Zealand’s largest solar farm, ultimately producing up to 147 megawatts (MW) at peak times, all of which would flow into the national grid.

That development follows Lodestone’s 2021 consent of plans to build New Zealand’s first major industrial-scale solar farm in Northland. Along with four other sites, Lodestone’s investment in New Zealand’s solar infrastructure will total $300 million.

Transpower is also consulting on a Renewable Energy Zone pilot programme in Northland. Further information about this project is available here.

In Huntly, the construction of a 35MW Battery Energy Storage System is set to begin in July. WEL Networks and Infratec have entered into major contracts for the supply and build of what will be New Zealand’s largest battery storage facility. With several players including the NZ Battery Project looking for options to mitigate dry-year risk, the $25 million project will aid in the transition to renewable energy in the Waikato.

Meanwhile, four global heavyweights have been shortlisted for the world’s biggest green hydrogen project based in Southland. Japanese consortium Mitsui & Co. Ltd, leading gases and engineering company BOC and Australian companies Fortescue Future Industries and Woodside Energy Limited are vying for the Southern Green Hydrogen project – a Meridian Energy and Contact Energy joint venture. Final request for proposal responses are due next month, with development set to begin by mid-year.

In a world where energy diversification is coming into increasingly sharp focus, the developments highlight the industry’s increasing momentum ahead of the release of Emissions Reduction Plan and the 2022 Budget in May.

Government support in the form of the Low Emissions Transport Fund, the Decarbonising Industry Fund and Green Investment Fund, among others, will be crucial in supporting ongoing innovation, investment and the transition to renewable energy, and highlights the value of incentivising private investment and innovation.

As we move towards net-zero, it also highlights the private sector’s ability, with Government support, to enable the delivery of significant projects – a lesson that is relevant across the infrastructure sector and key to resolving our infrastructure deficit.