Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Distributed Small-Scale Wind in New Zealand: Advantages, Barriers and Policy Support Instruments

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posted on 2021-11-03, 01:41 authored by Barry, Martin

Despite having one of the best wind resources in the world, New Zealand’s wind energy industry is growing at a slower rate than the OECD average. This is arguably due to a lack of appropriate government support, with industry development largely being left to the market. These conditions have created a wind industry with the following four characteristics: a trend toward large-scale wind farms (leading to increased local opposition), a small number of investors, a high geographic concentration of wind capacity and a limited local turbine manufacturing industry. These characteristics are arguably limiting the potential growth of New Zealand’s wind industry. This thesis investigates whether small-scale wind (SSW) farms can alleviate these limiting characteristics and thus provide for a higher rate of industry growth. The approach is to investigate the advantages of, barriers to, and most effective policy instruments for SSW internationally, and apply these to the New Zealand context. Local research was conducted through interviews with 19 energy industry stakeholders and a rural mail survey questionnaire, to which 338 people responded. Research found that SSW offers a number of advantages: significantly higher local public acceptance; facilitation of community ownership; the potential for distributed generation benefits and support for the local turbine manufacturing industry. Given these findings, it is argued that SSW can provide for a higher rate of industry growth in New Zealand. The key barriers constraining SSW in New Zealand are its high cost, obtaining resource consent, a high degree of perceived investment risk, the electricity pricing system and the electricity market structure. The feed-in tariff appears to be the best policy instrument to overcome these barriers, along with the provision of investment subsidies and the classification of SSW as a controlled activity under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Environmental Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Chapman, Ralph