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Report shows wind a major player in electricity

Media release
23 December 2005

Report shows wind a major player in electricity future

A new consultation by the Electricity Commission has highlighted 10 regions around the country which could provide up to 2,250 MW of new wind-powered electricity generation capacity by 2016.

Under the scenarios outlined in the report the Commission estimates that the installed wind turbine capacity could increase by 10 times the current level in a short period of time.

The possible scenarios envisage a range of different wind energy penetrations in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, Wairarapa, Wellington, Marlborough, Otago and Southland. The consultation paper is available at

Chief Executive of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA), James Glennie, welcomed the consultation saying it clearly showed that wind energy had a major role to play in meeting New Zealand’s demand for clean, reliable and affordable electricity.

“There is a large amount of wind generation either being constructed or under consideration. Wind is a new form of generation with different characteristics from the hydro, thermal and geothermal plant which has been the mainstay of the New Zealand electricity system,” said Mr Glennie.

“Wind is New Zealand’s preferred form of generation. The challenge now is for decision makers to provide certainty so that companies can invest in new wind generation with confidence that the market will not be constrained by the lack of requisite electricity transmission infrastructure or by market rules that are skewed in favour of existing generators,” he said.

“This report is helpful in that it identifies which regions have the most potential for wind energy and estimates how much might go where. This is the first, important step in providing some strategic planning for the current and continuing growth in wind generation.”

Total installed wind capacities in the report scenarios range up to a maximum of 2,250 MW of wind by 2016. This capacity is generating approximately 7.8 billion kWh or 16.8 per cent of total national demand which, by that date, is forecast to be 46.8 billion kWh.

Mr Glennie said this was consistent with MED estimates that wind could provide 20 per cent of New Zealand’s total electricity demand.

“We are delighted that this report has been undertaken. Reports like this demonstrate the enormous potential of wind. They also enable long-term energy planning which is so often missing but which is so vital for the future integrity of the electricity network,” he said.

“New Zealand has one of the best wind energy resources on the globe and that is why this is the first country in the world in which wind energy is directly competitive with all other forms of thermal and renewable electricity generation. The sort of work that this consultation is a part of is to be strongly encouraged as it will be vital to ensuring the long term, sustainable and optimal development of the wind industry.

In 2004 the wind industry was the fastest growing energy sector in New Zealand with growth of more than 300 per cent. 170 MW is now installed and operating. 90 MW is currently under construction, more than 430 MW of new capacity has been consented in the last 12 months and a further 400 MW is currently in the resource consent process.

The NZWEA has more than 60 members including some of New Zealand’s largest electricity generators and lines companies.

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