MartinJenkins to complete business case for new energy centre

by Joshua Riddiford.
This article was first published by Energy News on 17 July 2018.

Policy consultancy MartinJenkins will complete the feasibility analysis and initial business case for a new energy development centre in Taranaki.

The firm will build upon the early work in the region's economic modernisation action plan Tapuae Roa: Make Way for Taranaki developed last year by New Plymouth District Council, Stratford District Council, South Taranaki District Council, Taranaki Regional Council, the Venture Taranaki Trust, local business leaders, iwi and the Government.

It identified energy as one of four key 'futures' alongside future foods, the Maori economy, and the visitor sector. It proposed setting up an energy centre to develop, demonstrate, test and pilot clean technologies. That would utilise the region's existing oil, gas and marine engineering expertise within renewable generation developments.

Venture Taranaki economy and sector development general manager Anne Probert says the centre will build on the region’s existing strengths in the energy industry and focus thinking on the pathway to a sustainable, low emissions energy future.

“While oil and gas remains an important component of New Zealand’s energy mix, Taranaki can play a pivotal role in developing and diversifying our energy sources and technologies.”

MartinJenkins will produce its final energy centre report early next year.

It has a history of oil and gas research and has previously completed work for Venture Taranaki.

Last year, the Wellington-based policy consultancy completed a report commissioned by New Zealand Oil and Gas into the potential economic benefits arising from a commercial discovery in the South Island Barque prospect.

Venture Taranaki previously commissioned the firm to write “The Wealth Beneath our Feet”, an analysis of the oil and gas industry’s economic value to New Zealand. That report found the industry contributed more than $1.5 billion to the region’s gross domestic product in 2013.

Transition

Environmental policies are a priority for the Labour-led Government. The administration wants the economy to be net zero carbon by 2050 and all power generation to come from renewable sources – in a normal hydrological year – by 2035.

It pledged $20 million to Taranaki to modernise its economy in early April six days before a surprise decision to issue no new offshore oil and gas exploration permits. The increased regional spending included $100,000 towards a business case for the new centre and $50,000 towards the H2 Taranaki Hydrogen Road Map.

The exploration ban is aimed at meeting the Government’s environmental goals. It argued at the time that the ban will avoid locking in hydrocarbon investment over the long term and encourage investment in renewable energy.

Last week, the Government announced a three-year $600,000 grant from the provincial growth fund would be paid to Venture Taranaki to employ a transitional economy manager.

Venture Taranaki chief executive Stuart Trundle says that money will enable the trust to bring in capacity and capability to help drive the transition to a low emissions energy future.

“Shifting beyond one of our cornerstone industries will require a multi-generational approach, and with this investment we can set the foundations in place to take such a strategic view.”

The Government also pledged $950,000 to Hiringa Energy and its partners to help develop hydrogen fuel infrastructure.

New Energy Development

The Tapuae Roa energy development centre plan was launched in April alongside the Government's announcement of $20 million spending towards shifting the focus of Taranaki's economy.

Venture Taranaki’s initial request for proposals gave an indicative budget between $120,000 and $130,000 for the research work.

MartinJenkins will investigate issues including the potential for the centre to be developed in Taranaki, risks, and the capabilities in the region that could be leveraged.

Areas of short term focus – including consideration of the hydrogen road map – should be given priority, Venture Taranaki said in its request for proposals. Collaboration opportunities with businesses, universities and crown research institutes should also be considered.