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On 8 and 9 March, Ara Ake and Taranaki regional development agency, Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki, hosted the third Offshore Renewable Energy Forum in New Plymouth to explore the challenges and the significant opportunities for a successful offshore renewable energy industry across Aotearoa New Zealand.

“It’s great to see Government backed, Ara Ake and Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki coming together to create a platform for the community, industry leaders, experts and stakeholders to discuss the opportunities that offshore renewable energy can offer,” says Energy Minister Megan Woods.

The sold-out event, with over 200 in-person and online attendees, was sponsored by BlueFloat Energy and Elemental Group, the partnership between Copenhagen Infrastructure and NZ Super Fund, WITT Te Pūkenga, RPS Group, Parkwind, and Beca.

“The move towards a more sustainable, equitable and resilient energy future, has put a spotlight on the offshore renewable energy sector and the scale of investment and deployment of offshore renewable energy projects globally is unprecedented. The exceptional insights and discussions at the Forum will certainly act as a tailwind to New Zealand’s offshore renewable energy journey,“ says Ara Ake Chief Executive, Dr Cristiano Marantes.

The Forum highlighted the importance of engaging and partnering with local communities throughout the process to ensure offshore renewable energy can be developed in a socially responsible manner. It also emphasised the importance of infrastructure as a key enabler and investment in infrastructure is essential to support the development, operation and growth of the sector.

“Taranaki is well placed to be at the forefront of offshore renewable energy to support our transition to a low-emissions future and the development of a new energy economy. Collaboration and partnership with local and central government, mana whenua, private business and investment will be critical to enable this emerging industry, including a regulatory regime, infrastructure development, and consideration of the cultural and environmental impacts,” explains Kelvin Wright, Chief Executive Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki.

"Offshore renewable energy presents an intergenerational opportunity for current and future generations by providing environmental, economic and social benefits. Benefits include job creation for our upcoming workforce, supplying a significant and reliable source of electricity to meet our energy needs, and reducing emissions to mitigate the impacts of climate change," says Wright.

The Forum brought together diverse voices from industry, iwi, community, government, developers, and innovators. Furthermore, it facilitated discussion, collaboration and knowledge sharing, and the importance of social licence. It also encouraged feedback on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's discussion document, "Enabling Investment in Offshore Renewable Energy.”

After the submissions close on 14 April, further consultation will take place from June 2023, to focus on the broader regulatory settings for how infrastructure will be constructed, operated, and decommissioned.

Live recordings and presentations from the Forum will be available by 24 March at www.araake.co.nz/oref