Genesis Energy is partnering with Tilt Renewables to develop a 100 MW wind farm at Waverley on the southern Taranaki coast.
Chief executive Marc England said the deal with Tilt, still be to finalised, could see construction beginning next year and the project generating electricity in 2020.
“The electricity sector will play a critical role in the decarbonisation of higher emission sectors such as transportation and industrial processing,” he said. “This exciting project will play a role as we meet predicted increases in demand for renewable energy.”
Genesis is the country’s biggest electricity and gas retailer. It is also the largest generator using coal and gas, but also operates the Waikaremoana, Tongariro and Tekapo hydro schemes. The small Hau Nui wind farm near Martinborough is its only other wind asset.
England said the company, which aims to stop burning coal at Huntly by 2030, is committed to help transition the country to a lower-carbon economy. The terms signed for the project are an important step in its efforts to increase generation from renewables.
Genesis shares rose 0.5 cents to $2.45. Shares in Tilt, currently under a takeover offer from major shareholder Infratil, were unchanged at $2.31.
Melbourne-based Tilt was split out of Trustpower in late 2016. In August it signalled the improved prospects for Waverley when it elevated its status to a “key near-term focus” alongside two major wind projects in Victoria and New South Wales.
Waverley was consented in July 2017. Those consents allow Tilt to install up to 48 turbines with a blade tip height of 160 metres and a maximum rotor diameter of 130 metres.
That is an advantage over other, older projects consented earlier by rivals including Meridian Energy and Mercury NZ. In August Meridian said it intends to seek amendments to consents it has for wind projects near Waiouru and north of Napier to allow larger, more efficient turbines to be installed.
Tilt previously described Waverley as a $300 million development with a capacity of up to 130 MW, and the ability to deliver about 500 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually. That would be sufficient to power about 70,000 homes and would avoid about 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
Chief executive Deion Campbell said the firm is pleased to be establishing a strategic relationship with Genesis.
The parties’ agreement of proposed terms and conditions for a long-term power purchase and services agreement is a significant step in finalising that partnership.
Subject to final agreement on commercial terms, construction at Waverley could start as early as the first half of 2019, he said.