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Wind uptake can ease electricity supply concern

29 January 2008

Greater wind uptake can ease electricity supply concerns

The high electricity prices seen in the North Island late last week demonstrate the need for diversity in our sources of electricity and greater use of wind energy, according to the New Zealand Wind Energy Association.

The Association’s Chief Executive, Fraser Clark, noted that issues with thermal power – the form of generation that is often perceived to be the most reliable –appeared to have had the greatest impact on prices.

“Though we might not always appreciate New Zealand’s wind, it is an excellent resource. The wind will always be blowing at sufficient strength for power generation somewhere in the country,” said Mr Clark. “This means that new wind farms such as West Wind in Wellington or Contact Energy’s proposed project in Port Waikato will be able to generate electricity when the wind is not blowing elsewhere, helping to alleviate supply shortages and prevent sky-rocketing prices.

“Similarly, additional South Island wind generation can help relieve the high demands placed on hydro generation and reduce the risk that ‘dry year’ water shortages might occur.”

Last week’s high electricity prices were the result of a number of events related to the transmission system and several different generators. The combination of events highlights the risks around focusing debate on particular issues or technologies, rather than the system as a whole.

The rapid uptake of wind energy around the globe, with 20 GW of new capacity installed last year alone, recognises the contribution it can make to energy security. NZ has a world-leading wind resource. We should obtain the maximum possible benefit from this reliable and sustainable energy source.


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