A new report Economic Benefits of Wind Farms in New Zealand, claims that there will be considerable growth in employment in New Zealand's wind industry over the coming years. The report was prepared by economics consultancy BERL for the New Zealand Wind Energy Association.
In a scenario where wind supplies 20% of NZ's electricity by 2030, the wind industry will be generating employment and GDP on a par with other industries such as the oil and gas exploration and extraction sector.
"Along with industry growth will come green growth opportunities for businesses," says Eric Pyle, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association. "As we've seen happen in the oil and gas industry, the growing wind industry will provide opportunities for Kiwi companies to develop products and services for the domestic and international wind markets.
"We are already seeing signs that businesses are taking advantage of the opportunities created by New Zealand's growing wind industry. Businesses based in NZ are developing skills, expertise and technology and then exporting these to the continually expanding international market." Bloomberg New Energy Finance identified that global clean energy investment in 2011 reached of $260 billion, and it expects that annual investment in onshore wind will grow from US$65bn in 2010 to US$137bn per year in 2030. In New Zealand, wind is already recognised as one of the lowest cost options for new generation, in part because of our tremendous wind resource.
"As the report does not take into account the potential growth in businesses supporting the wind industry and their international opportunities, the employment and GDP potential is even greater than the report indicates," says Mr Pyle. The report indicates total employment in NZ's wind industry could grow from 764 full time equivalent jobs to 1430 by 2030. This is the first report to identify current employment in the industry and its potential growth.
By 2030 around 65% of jobs in the wind industry will be in operations and maintenance. "Many of these jobs will be located outside of New Zealand's big cities, where opportunities for skilled, well-paid employment are limited. This is great news for regional New Zealand and comes as the world is preparing to celebrate the power and potential of wind on Global Wind Day on 15 June." concludes Mr Pyle.
Economic benefits of wind farms in New Zealand - key points
The report was prepared by BERL for the New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA) to determine the wind energy industry's economic contribution to New Zealand.
It applies an internationally accepted method to determine the economic value of a megawatt (MW) of installed wind generation capacity with respect to employment and GDP.
The wind energy industry in 2011 is a relatively small industry. However, by 2030, the wind energy industry is expected to be a relatively mature industry, generating employment and GDP on a par with other mature industries in New Zealand such as the oil and gas exploration and extraction sector, or aquaculture.
The estimated direct employment from the wind energy industry (380 FTEs) is comparable to the employment of oil and gas extraction (592 FTEs) and gas supply (540 FTEs) industries.
Under a scenario where there is 3,500MW of installed wind capacity (providing 20% of electricity) throughout New Zealand in 2030, the employment generated by the industry doubles to about 1400 FTEs.
In terms of direct employment, the wind energy industry in 2030, with 764 FTEs, will be similar in size to the hydro-electricity generation industry (771 FTEs), oil and gas extraction (592 FTEs), and gas supply (540 FTEs).
Much of the growth in employment will be in the O&M workforce as there will be a larger number of wind farms to manage. O&M related employment would make up 65 percent of the total full-time equivalent jobs in the wind energy industry in 2030, 10% will be related to planning and project development, 24% to construction and installation.
In 2011, the wind energy industry contributed $65 million to GDP.
Under a scenario where there is 3,500MW of installed wind capacity in 2030, the wind energy industry's total contribution to national GDP will be $156 million.
The leading contributor to this gain will be related to O&M activities. From about $22 million in 2011, the potential contribution to GDP of O&M related activities increases to about $110 million.
In terms of GDP, the wind energy industry in 2030 will be comparable in economic activity to metal ore mining ($84 million) and aquaculture ($93 million).
Wind energy generation has increased from 138GWh in 2001 to 1,930GWh in 2011, an annual increase of 28 percent.
As of the end of 2011, there are 16 operating wind farms, with a combined capacity of about 623MW throughout New Zealand.
Industry development opportunities
Businesses that are likely to benefit from the wind energy industry's expansion include those involved in consulting services, finance and other business services, retail trade, component manufacturing, industrial goods distribution, and construction.
It is likely that as the wind energy industry grows, New Zealand companies will start to develop within and around the industry. Over time, New Zealand companies will provide services that are currently sourced from overseas. The methodology used in this report has not allowed for this "home grown" effect, meaning the employment figures associated with 3,500 MW of wind generation could be higher than this report indicates.
Download report: Economic benefits of wind farms in New Zealand