West Wind Powers Wellington
West Wind Powers Wellington
“Today Wellington’s wind will finally be put to good use, delivering significant benefits to the Wellington region,” says Fraser Clark, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association.
“Wellingtonians are well aware of the energy in Wellington's wind. From today, Meridian Energy’s Project West Wind - New Zealand’s newest wind farm - will harness this strong and consistent resource to make a tangible difference to security of electricity supply,” says Mr Clark. “Project West Wind will supplement existing generation sources and its output will provide a natural complement to hydro generation.”
“Wind energy also helps to ensure electricity remains affordable. The low and well-understood cost of operating a wind farm provides generators with confidence in the cost of generating electricity well into the future. It also provides a valuable hedge against the variable costs of other forms of generation,” says Mr Clark. Forecasts released last week by the Electricity Commission show the price of gas for electricity generation doubling by 2020. Gas generation will also be subject to a price on carbon emissions when the energy sector enters the Emissions Trading Scheme.
“Wind farms also create important benefits such as reduced transmission losses and the suppression of spot electricity prices.” Analysis presented at last week’s Wind Energy Conference suggested that generation from the Manawatu wind farms reduces average spot electricity prices by $10/MWh.
“It is pleasing to see Prime Minister John Key support and acknowledge the success of Project West Wind today.
“However, many other locations throughout New Zealand have a similar potential for wind generation. Without strong political support for renewable energy, New Zealand will not fully realise wind energy’s benefits,” warns Mr Clark. Over 900 megawatts of wind energy capacity is consented, and developers are seeking consent for another 2000MW. World-wide, wind energy is now one of the leading forms of new electricity generation.
“Despite this significant consenting activity, there have been no announcements regarding the construction of any other major wind farms since work began at Project West Wind.
“We need a clear and stable policy and regulatory environment to give wind farm developers confidence in investing in new generation.”
Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee announced in March the Government’s intention to review the New Zealand Energy Strategy, and several other reviews affecting the energy sector are underway.
“Certainty regarding the future of the Emissions Trading Scheme is essential to encourage investment in new projects. Clear recognition of the benefits of wind energy in the New
Zealand Energy Strategy and action to improve transmission capacity is also required,” concludes Mr Clark.