BlueFloat group unveils gigawatt-scale New Zealand offshore wind farm

A consortium including BlueFloat Energy has announced plans for an up to 1.4GW offshore wind farm featuring both floating platforms and fixed-bottom foundations off the coast of New Zealand as it pursues a 5GW pipeline in the country’s waters.

The Waikato offshore wind farm is due to feature oth floating platforms and fixed-bottom foundations (pic credit: GustoMSC)

Spanish developer BlueFloat Energy, Australian counterpart Energy Estate and Kiwi firm Elemental Group plans to invest billions of dollars into four offshore wind projects in New Zealand’s waters.

Their newly unveiled Waikato Offshore Wind project is planned for a site off South Auckland and West Waikato in the north-west of New Zealand’s north island.

It is the second investment to be announced by the partnership, following the 900MW South Taranaki project, unveiled earlier this month.

Waikato Offshore Wind project is planned to be built in two phases. Phase 1 – 250MW Waikato 1 – is for an approximately 250MW development using fixed-bottom foundations, located 22km off the West Waikato coast. Options for Phase 2 – 1150MW Waikato 2 – utilise floating foundations and include the potential for an 800-1,150MW development positioned to the west or north of Phase 1.

The wind farm will benefit from close proximity to the Huntly coal and gas power station and the Glenbrook substation in South Auckland, offering a direct route to the grid, the developers explained.

The consortium has completed its initial site selection and the project is now in the feasibility stage. It plans to start construction before 2030, subject to further engagement with indigenous peoples and other stakeholders, and obtaining all necessary government and regulatory approvals.

New Zealand is expected to announce a regulatory framework for offshore wind by mid-2024. Until this framework is decided, Waikato Offshore Wind’s route to market is unclear.

Carlos Martin, CEO of BlueFloat Energy, said: “Overbuilding of renewables capacity and increasing energy storage was recently described by energy minister Megan Woods as “mission critical” and we are keen to support the government in achieving their energy ambitions. 

“We welcome the announcement of a regulatory framework for offshore wind by mid-2024 and are pleased this is a key focus for the government.”