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Tasmania and NZ Becoming Hotspots for Large Renewable Energy Projects

Big businesses are now looking to Tasmania and New Zealand as suitable land dries up for large scale renewable energy projects in Australia. 

Daniel Moroko is the founder and Chief Executive of Rok Solid, a first of its kind renewable energy land acquisition agency, and says Tasmania and New Zealand are now seen as renewables powerhouses by big business wanting to build big renewable energy projects, as governments fast track development applications and land is more readily available.

“They are seen as leaders in the field, with Tasmania 100 per cent self-sufficient in renewable electricity and the first Australian jurisdiction to achieve net zero emissions, while more than 80 percent of New Zealand’s electricity comes from renewable energy sources, so they are showing they are well ahead of the game,” Mr Moroko said.

Mr Moroko, who is at the coalface of renewable energy storage, said until now, projects in Tasmania and New Zealand have focused on land less than 100 hectares in size.

“We’ve seen strong strategic planning and coordination for Tasmania’s renewable sector and that’s putting them in a strong position when it comes to luring investment from large international developers for larger scale projects,” Mr Moroko said.

“The Marinus Link renewable energy project has been touted as part of the plan to make Tasmania the “battery of the nation” and boost energy security on the mainland through two 750-megawatt cables sending electricity in both directions between Tasmania and the mainland,” he said.

Mr Moroko said Tasmania and New Zealand’s steady climate was also a drawcard for major wind, solar and storage projects.

 “Tasmania & New Zealand don't have huge fluctuations in climate. In Victoria you can have four seasons in a day, but Tasmania & New Zealand are considered a lot more steady,” he said.

Mr Moroko warned bureaucratic red tape, where approvals take as long as three years, was another reason for big business to look beyonds the mainland.

“The 1.5 GW Yanco Delta wind farm was last year the first to be approved by the NSW  government in almost three years.

“This just isn’t happening in New Zealand, where the government is using legislation brought in during the pandemic to fast track approvals,” Mr Moroko said.

“New Zealand has a Fast-track Consenting Act, introduced to accelerate infrastructure development, which allows ministers to send projects straight to the independent panel, overlooked by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), reducing consenting time and saving the infrastructure builders money,” he said.

The Tauhei Solar Farm project near Te Aroha in Waikato took just 70 working days to get the greenlight. It will see more than 300,000 solar panels spread across 180 hectares of farmland and is due to be operational by next year.

“Why are we not seeing this same sort of thing in Australia,” Mr Moroko questioned.

“States like New South Wales and Queensland have specific Renewable Energy Zones mapped out, yet there’s a bottleneck of projects taking in some cases three to five years for a decision on approvals.”

According to the International Energy Agency, New Zealand plans to generate 90 percent of its power from renewables by 2025, rising to 100 percent by the end of the decade, by pressing councils to drastically cut the time it takes to approve projects.

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