Stewart Island Energy Futures Workshop, 24th February 2012

Southland District Council in conjunction with Venture Southland ran a workshop at Oban for vendors and experts to present to the local community the options and difficulties to implement full, or partial replacement of the current engine-alternators with the view to minimising the cost of electricity on Stewart Island. The intention was to seek community consensus for investigating, or otherwise any, or all options.


The workshop was held at the Oban Community Hall on Friday 24th February 2012, starting at 1:00pm, finishing at 6:30pm. Some 50 - 60 people attended in addition to the presenters. Most people attending were Oban rate-payers, but some members of the audience had come from as far away as Auckland and Christchurch.

The programme was devised to consist of three sections: the first was to set the scene and explain legislative and planning constraints for options; the second session looked at the technology options available. The third and last session comprised a presentation on the Meridian wind power scheme at Ross Island, Antarctica, which has many lessons for Oban.


Colloquium opening

Councillor Bruce Ford

Jon Spraggon, Stewart Island Community Board,

Erik Barnes, Southland District Council

Session I: Setting the Scene

Introduction to session

Robin McNeill, Venture Southland

World and National Trends and Developments in Energy generation and Use Accompanying Commentary.

Emeritus Professor Arthur Williamson, University of Canterbury

Stewart Island Electricity Demand and Supply Summary of Progress to Date

Robin McNeill, Venture Southland

Environmental Matters

Sharon Pasco, Department of Conservation

The Resource Management Act and Energy

Kylie Galbraith, Environment Southland

How EECA can assist remote communities

David Rohan, EECA (not present at the workshop due to illness)

Session II: Technology Options

Introduction to session

Grid Stability Issues HVDC-Lite from the South Island Grid

Dr Hamish Laird, ELM G

Small Hydro Opportunities for Stewart Island

Jeff Wilson, Wilson Hire

Is Hydrogen Storage an Option for Stewart Island?

Dr Alistair Gardner, IRL

The SHED (Southland Hydrogen Economy Development) Project

Anthony Hine, REACH Power Ltd

Partial Gas Substitution for Industrial and Marine Engines

Basil Walker

Wind Potential for Stewart Island

Dr. Phil Murray, Massey University

The Tangaroa Marine Energy Trial near Oban

Stewart Island Project Briefing

Langlee Awatea Presentation

Kevin McGrath, Tangaroa Energy

Session III: Scoping the Future

Remote Island Power Supply Case Study: Ross Island, Antarctica

Iain Miller, Antarctica New Zealand

Colloquium Round-up

Erik Barnes, Southland District Council


McNeill, R.G. A Proposed Way Forward To Deal With Electricity Supply At Stewart Island (2007)

Will the price of electricity drop on Stewart Island/Rakiura?

It is too early to know if renewable energy sources do indeed offer the possibility to reduce the cost of electricity at Oban: no-one knows for sure if the waves are big enough and often enough; if the wind can be relied on; if a hydro scheme would really be viable, or if the cost of solar panels is yet cheap enough. On the other hand, the presenters at the workshop overwhelmingly believed that the price of diesel would only increase over time and some harboured concerns for international long term certainty of supply. It may be that renewable energy sources can at best only halt price increases. Only by collecting site data over a year or so can the economic viability of renewable generation be truly understood.

Next Steps

Venture Southland and Southland District Council staff will work together to produce an options paper for the Stewart Island/Rakiura Community Board and subsequently to be posted on this site setting out the next steps to be taken.

Summary of Stewart Island Energy Futures Workshop, 24th February 2012

Related pages: