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Grid can cope with substantial wind energy

31 August 2005

Strong National Grid can cope with substantial wind energy

The New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA) annual conference heard this morning from a number of speakers about the economic integration of wind energy on the New Zealand electricity grid.

New Zealand’s National Grid operator, Transpower, and Electricity Commissioner, Roy Hemmingway, said many of the difficulties associated with connecting substantial levels of wind energy to the national grid could be managed.

The electrical session was led by Ralph Craven, CEO of Transpower, who said that the technical capabilities of wind turbines had advanced significantly over the last few years alone and that any barriers to wind development are now liable to be economic rather than technical. He added;

“Wind is not a replacement for the grid. The connection of large scale wind generation to the New Zealand electricity network will require a strong and flexible grid”.

Electricity Commissioner, Roy Hemmingway, noted that while the installed capacity of wind turbines around the country is currently relatively small, it is expected to increase significantly in the next few years.

“In anticipation of the substantial increase of wind energy coming on to the system in the coming years the Commission is initiating a comprehensive investigation to identify the necessary changes to market rules and to the agreements in accordance with which wind is connected to the grid.”

The conference also heard from Greg Sise, Managing Director of Energy Link and lead author of an MED / EECA report released in May this year which identified that wind turbines could supply the country with up to 20 per cent of its total electricity needs.

“Yes there are challenges and limitations with wind energy, as there are for any form of generation. But by being proactive, by recognising the challenges and by ensuring that wind turbines meet certain basic technical and operational standards, the wind industry will be able to meet a major part of our growing national electricity demand,” he said.

Chief Executive of the NZWEA, James Glennie, said issues associated with the grid integration of wind energy are being examined by System Operators the world over and are now very well understood.

“The wind industry is providing innovative solutions to these historic problems and as a consequence wind, in combination with our extensive hydro resource, is well positioned to meet a substantial portion of New Zealand’s future electricity demand.”

In 2004 the wind industry was the fastest growing energy sector in New Zealand with growth of more than 300 per cent. 200 MW of new capacity has been consented in the last seven months and 607 MW is currently in the resource consent process. The NZWEA has more than 60 members including some of New Zealand’s largest electricity generators, retailers and distribution companies.

ENDS

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