Mayor Welcomes Wellington's Marine Energy First

10 October 2011

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown welcomes government funding toward New Zealand's first energy project to connect marine energy to the electricity network, which will be based in the Capital.

She called for a four-way partnership between central government, local government, innovative entrepreneurs and investment capital.

"A partnership on all levels of government with research and industry will develop better energy solutions and contribute to the establishment of smarter industry to take our economy forward," says Mayor Wade-Brown.

Two Wellington companies are working on the first marine energy project in New Zealand, to send power to shore from a marine energy device.

Wave Energy Technology New Zealand (WET-NZ) is a joint R&D project by Power Projects Ltd and the Crown Research Institute, Industrial Research Limited.

The companies have been awarded a $360,000 government grant to help pay for a 1 megawatt capacity power cable, which will supply power from a wave energy device moored 25 metres deep and 3 km off Wellington's south coast at Moa Point.

Mayor Wade-Brown says the initiative is a welcome move toward better energy solutions that will capture Wellington's unique natural advantages.

"While Wellington's wind is well known, and it's sunnier than most NZ cities, there is also an awesome amount of marine energy," says Mayor Wade-Brown, a strong advocate for renewable energy development.

"With Wellington poised on the edge of the strong waves and tides of Cook Strait, we are well placed to contribute a much cleaner energy source back into the national grid."

The Mayor recently met with Scottish Development International to progress discussion of a Marine Energy Test Centre in Wellington and she believes this cable could help make the Centre become a reality.

"As well as the scientific energy expertise, we have engineering, cable laying and coastal ecology experts right here in Wellington. This is a huge opportunity to turn small scale tests into global renewable energy solutions and an encouraging industry for the Capital."

Dr John Huckerby, Director of Power Projects Limited, joined the recent Mayoral delegation to China and met with the State Oceanographic Administration and other marine energy experts.

Dr Huckerby said they were planning to test their device for two years, after which the cable would be available for other developers to use.