Net Zero Grid Pathways: Accessing Lower South Island Renewables

Region Map
of New Zealand's electricity
Enough to power
electric vehicles
Enabling approx
renewable by 2025

What is the project?

Rio Tinto’s announcement to start planning for the wind-down and eventual closure of New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter at Tiwai Point accelerates New Zealand’s transition to a highly renewable energy future.  It presents an opportunity to enable the renewable electricity which was previously used by the smelter to be used across New Zealand and move the electricity system from being around 85% renewable today to at least 96% renewable in 2025. 


Latest Updates

View the latest Project News and related information here

December 2020: We are seeking your feedback on our EDGS 2019 variations consultation paper. 

We have also issued an update on the Accessing Lower South Island Renewables here [ pdf 944.08 KB ]




What's underway?

Clutha Upper-Waitaki Lines Project

In the immediate-term, Transpower has committed to deliver the Clutha Upper Waitaki Lines Project (CUWLP) by May 2022. The project is set to deliver benefits in the order of $100m per year by enabling low-cost renewable electricity generated in the lower South Island to be transported north.  For more information visit the CUWLP project page here

System Operator Investigations

In our role as system operator we are always looking at changes in system conditions to ensure that we can continue to operate the New Zealand power system securely and meet our Principal Performance Obligations. 

During this period of change the system operator will continue to provide its independent view on system security to the industry, including leading up to and during significant outages such as those associated with CUWLP. As we complete our studies, we will release them to the linked web page. Where appropriate Customer Advice Notices (CANs) and teleconferences will be used to communicate our study findings and views on system security to industry.

What's next?

Accessing Lower South Island Renewables

Following the completion of CUWLP, additional opportunities exist across New Zealand’s electricity transmission system to further access and utilise the excess renewable electricity from a smelter closure which in turn, assists our transition to a low-carbon economy. 

The aim of Net Zero Grid Pathways is to ensure New Zealand can take an integrated view of future investment needs given the 10-year lead times for approving, consenting and building transmission lines. This would enable the power system, including new renewable and distributed generation and new transmission interconnections, to achieve the least cost pathway to a net zero carbon future. 

Phase one of the Net Zero Grid Pathways work will focus on the investment opportunities arising from a closure of the smelter.  We are seeking industry involvement and collaboration in helping us determine how best to develop the transmission system post the smelter closure.  

Read our December 2020 update here [ pdf 944.08 KB ]