It was a freezing cold night in New Zealand and the fossil fuel generators couldn’t crank up fast enough. This event, when NZ energy suppliers failed the people of Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud), has inspired a move towards big batteries for electric energy storage to supplement spikes in energy demand. Meridian will build the first of these on the southern part of the northern island to support both north and south island grids.
And the irony is that this will be built at Marsden Point, the site of an oil refinery. We drove around the north island of New Zealand a few years ago and visited Marsden Point – a very beautiful spot marred by the obscenity of an oil refinery. Here’s more about the plan:
“Meridian has purchased 105 hectares of land adjacent to the Marsden Point oil refinery for the Ruakaka Energy Park, which will house a battery energy storage system (BESS) at least 100MW in capacity, as well as a utility-scale solar farm.
“Installations of utility-scale batteries jumped by 50% worldwide last year, driven by the global shift toward renewables and a dramatic fall in battery costs. Meridian is one of many potential developers in Aotearoa and estimates between 4 and 5 batteries of this scale will need to be installed strategically around the country by 2030. The company expects the Marsden Point BESS to be operational by mid-2023.”
Meridian is consulting widely about the site, including with Indigenous New Zealanders, the Iwi, as well as undertaking ecological and geotechnical site assessments as part of their due diligence.
As the COVID-19 pandemic retreats, we are planning to revisit the beautiful New Zealand and look forward to noting her progress towards greater renewables, adding more and more solar to the hydro already in use. Perhaps we will be able to drive around in an electric car?
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