Published on September 3rd, 2011 | by Susan Kraemer3
Two Wind Farms Get NZ Closer to 90% Green
September 3rd, 2011 by Susan Kraemer
Two huge wind farm approvals totaling 1,400 MW (1.4 GW) bring New Zealand closer to its target of 90% renewable electricity by 2025. The small nation of four million gets more than three quarters of its electricity from clean energy already: 79%.
Geothermal and hydropower have long supplied the majority of New Zealand’s power, but hydro is at a natural limit. Wind is well positioned to fill the gap, according to Wind Energy Association CEO Eric Pyle. “Wind power could generate 20% of New Zealand’s electricity by 2025, up from 4% today.”
That means growing wind from its current 615 MW to around 3,000MW. These two approvals are a significant step forward, supplying nearly half of that at a total of 1,400 MW. The two large utility-scale wind farms are rated at 860 MW and 540 MW. (Another huge farm in the coal-rich South Island was denied, Meridian Energy is fighting to overturn a decision against its 630 MW Project Hayes in Otago.)
860 MW Genesis Energy
Genesis Energy has just filed for the resource consents to build an 858 MW wind farm in a remote region of the Wairarapa, at the bottom of the North Island, but near to Wellington, one of New Zealand’s four main population centers.
The 286 turbines, with a maximum height of 155 meters are proposed for a remote area that is relatively sparsely populated, with just six small rural settlements in or around the remote coastal site, with a combined population of about 500 in just 110 households.
Like US wind farms in Iowa and Texas, the company has signed land use agreements with 27 owners of the land, and would site the turbines within a “turbine corridor” ideal for wind farm development. Over several years, building the farm is expected to cost around $1.68 billion NZ (US$1.43)
540 MW Contact Energy
Contact Energy, New Zealand’s largest utility has resource consent to build Hauauru ma raki (“northwest wind” in Maori) a 504 MW, 168-turbine wind farm near New Zealand’s largest population center of Auckland, with the farm sited on the windy west coast between Port Waikato and Raglan.
Among the conditions imposed on Hauauru ma raki under the consent are that the turbines must not be taller than 150 metres with a maximum of three, 50-metre blades, which must be light grey or off-white in colour with low reflectivity, and limits for noise created during both the construction and operation of the wind farm, and a number of conditions to protect the local ecology.
At the time, the approval made it the biggest wind project in the country to secure consent to date, but Contact Energy appears to be wavering on going forward with the project immediately. Certainly it is a gigantic step.
Both farms approved are twice the size of New Zealand’s biggest wind farm to date, West Wind, which has only 62 turbines that are less than half the height of the new turbines, with towers that are only 67 meters tall.
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