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The Project Aqua power flow

Media Release
For immediate release: 2 December 2003

The Project Aqua power flow

The South Island would always be the first beneficiary of any power produced by the proposed Project Aqua hydro-electric scheme.

Project Aqua is the only publicised large-scale generation proposal in the South Island. It would generate enough low-cost, renewable electricity to power the equivalent of about 375,000 households in an average year and about 250,000 households in a very dry year (a one-in-20 year event).

Although the South Island would continue to send its spare power – the power it generates but does not need - to the North Island, the South Island would always be the first to benefit from any Project Aqua power. That means even in a dry year, the risk of the South Island facing a power crisis situation similar to the recent ones would be reduced.

“Power naturally flows down the transmission lines to where the demand is, so that ensures the South Island will always be supplied with the required electricity before it goes across Cook Strait. The power that flows to the North Island is spare energy – the energy the South Island doesn’t need,” says Meridian Energy spokesperson Alan Seay.

The power from Project Aqua would be collected at Black Point and Otiake and would flow mainly towards Canterbury and the high capacity grid lines at Benmore. From Christchurch, the power would flow to the north and north-west of Canterbury, to Marlborough, Nelson and the West Coast. Some of the Project Aqua power would also flow to Otago and Southland.

“It’s been predicted that by 2007/2008 the Cook Strait cable may not be able to transport enough power south to keep the South Island lights on in a dry year – even if the country saves 10% as we were asked to this year,” says Alan Seay.

The need for the transfer of spare energy from South to North and North to South is the nature of a power system where the South Island is reliant on renewable energy.

“The alternative to this system is one that would require a heavy reliance on fossil fuel generation, and we have to balance the effects of Project Aqua with the potential effects of that alternative,” concludes Alan Seay.


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