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Meridian seeks consent for Manawatu wind farm

Meridian Energy seeks consent for Manawatu wind farm

State-owned electricity generator and retailer Meridian Energy is seeking resource consent to develop a wind farm on the north side of the Manawatu Gorge.

The proposed wind farm, called Te Apiti (after the Manawatu Gorge), will be located on 1150 hectares of farm land beside Saddle Road between Ashhurst and Woodville.

Te Apiti is expected to have 55 wind turbines with a total capacity of between 82.5 and 96.25 megawatts (MW). It would be the country’s most productive wind farm, generating enough electricity for 32,300 homes.

Meridian Chief Executive Dr Keith Turner says wind power development is critical for the security of New Zealand’s energy supply.

“New Zealand’s economy depends on a reliable power supply and wind farms will have a key role in providing that reliability. With declining gas reserves and the risk of dry winters, we see development of Te Apiti as a small but significant step in meeting future electricity demand,” he said.

The environmental benefits of wind farms are another important factor, as they generate electricity without producing greenhouse gases.

Generating Assets Waitaki River system

The Upper Waitaki system begins at Lake Tekapo, a storage lake with about 800 GWh of storage capacity, which represents about 22 percent of the country’s hydro storage.

Water passes through the Tekapo A power station and is diverted by a purpose-built hydro canal to Tekapo B station on the shores of Lake Pukaki.

Lake Pukaki has some 1600 GWh of storage capacity – about 44 percent of New Zealand’s total. Water is drawn by canal from both Lakes Pukaki and Ohau to supply Ohau A , B and C power stations, before being discharged into Lake Benmore.

After passing through the Benmore power station, the water flows down the Waitaki River through the Aviemore and Waitaki stations.

Manapouri/Te Anau system

The combined storage of Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri is 380 GWh. The Manapouri power station lies 178m underground on the western shore of Lake Manapouri, and is accessed via a 2km road tunnel.

After passing through the station the water flows into Doubtful Sound via two 10km-long tailrace tunnels.

All of the stations are designed to be remote controlled from a control centre at Twizel.


Meridian Energy Australia Ltd owns the Southern Hydro power stations in Victoria.

The ten stations have a total generating capacity of 540MW, with about 940 GWh of output.

The company also owns hydro generation facilities at five small dams in New South Wales and Victoria, generating a total of 62 MW.

Te Apiti will help meet New Zealand’s commitment to reducing these emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

Dr Turner says studies show it to be an excellent location for a wind farm, with estimated annual production time during the year of 45%; well above the world average of 23% for wind farms.

“There are also many other sites around New Zealand suitable for wind farms. Te Apiti is the first of what is likely to be several such proposals by Meridian Energy.”

While Meridian is yet to select a turbine manufacturer, the project will be using megawatt-class machines.

Part of the Te Apiti site already has resource consent for 20 wind turbines. Meridian will apply to the Tararua District Council and (the Manawatu Wanganui Regional Council) for resource consent to develop the rest of the site.

“We will undertake full consultation with local residents and other interested parties so that they have an opportunity to put forward their views. Their input is welcome and will help us make the right decisions,” he said.

Dr Turner says if resource consents are granted this year, construction could begin in early 2004, with the first turbine producing power in late 2004. Full production capacity would be achieved by early 2005.

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