Spatial planning for New Zealand’s renewable energy future
Author: Emma McRae
The Climate Change Commission’s draft plan, released in January this year, requires rapid expansion of wind and solar power generation in the coming decade to meet electricity demand as our energy needs increase and decarbonisation requires that electric vehicles become more widely adopted.
To meet the draft plan projections, it is estimated that 13 additional large wind farms are needed by 2035. Solar energy is also expected to expand dramatically, with more commercial–scale solar expected to form part of the country’s energy mix.
The National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation 2011 (NPS–REG) currently states (Policy E1) that regional policy statements, and regional and district plans must provide for the development, operation, maintenance and upgrading of new and existing renewable electricity generation activities.
In line with this, regional and district plans must now contain objectives and policies which respond to this requirement.
The reform of the Resource Management Act is set to go further than this, with the 2020 report of the Resource Management Review Panel (the Randerson Report) identifying that suitable locations for renewable energy generation should form a national priority as part of spatial planning.
Spatial planning for renewable energy on a national scale has so far received limited attention in New Zealand.
The following paper draws on the experience of Wales, a country with a similar sized population, to discuss how spatial planning might assist to plan for these additional large wind and solar farms.