Kaipara Harbour
Kaipara Harbour

New Zealand’s Environment Court has made a positive recommendation to Conservation Minister, Tim Groser, on a proposal from Crest Energy to generate electricity from Kaipara Harbour.

Kaipara Harbour is New Zealand’s largest harbour and is on the west coast just north of Auckland. The project would be the first in New Zealand using tidal flow to generate electricity.

Crest Energy is seeking to build a 200-megawatt tidal power plant at the mouth of the harbour. The system could be generating power by next year with Phase One of the project producing 20MW from an initial installation of 20 turbines. 

Eventually, the power plant would have 200 turbines and could provide up to 4 per cent of the country’s power.

Each turbine would be 24 metres high but would be 6 metres under water at low tide. About 8000 million cubic metres of water pass in and out of the harbour each day, and Crest Energy says Kaipara Harbour is one of the best sites in the world to generate substantial amounts of tidal electricity.

The Environment Court said that the Crest Energy proposal still needed further work to satisfy concerns about the turbines interfering with the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin and the important snapper fishery.