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Pete Hodgson Speech: New renewable energy

Pete Hodgson Speech: New renewable energy: Meridian's Te Apiti wind farm

[Remarks at public announcement of Meridian Energy's Project Te Apiti wind farm (55 turbines, total capacity 82 -96 megawatts), Woodville, Wairarapa]

Thank you, it's a pleasure to be here.

It's a pleasure because increasing New Zealand's renewable energy supply is vital if we are to have a sustainable energy future.

Wind power is a huge renewable resource in this country and we are only just beginning to tap it.

A recent report for the Ministry of Economic Development suggested wind had the potential to deliver almost 10,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year, roughly a quarter of current total generation.

So far we generate about 150 gigawatt-hours a year with wind, a tiny fraction of that potential.

Wind power is about to expand rapidly because now the price gap is almost closed.

Wind generation technology is becoming competitive with the cheapest fossil fuel generation.

I know Meridian is committed to making the most of this opportunity and building several hundred megawatts of new wind generation in the next few years.

I know Keith Turner is personally committed to bringing the best possible wind power technology to New Zealand – and I am grateful for that.

I am pleased also that the government is able to be a partner in the development of wind power – and other renewables – as a consequence of our climate change policy.

I’m always saying the Kyoto Protocol is essentially about new technology, and this is what I mean.

The Te Apiti windfarm will not only be a big boost to wind power in New Zealand, it will help us meet our energy needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The wind is free, which means power from this plant will always be used before power generated with gas or coal.

By avoiding some fossil fuel generation, a wind farm makes it easier for the government to meet its Kyoto emissions target. We can recognise this contribution by passing on the benefit in the form of Kyoto emission units, or carbon credits.

This wind farm, and another being expanded by another generator, is benefiting from just such a deal.

Allocating Kyoto emission units to renewables projects like this helps bring them on sooner than they might otherwise arrive.

It's a win for the generator, the taxpayer and the environment.

There will be more deals like this through the climate change Projects mechanism. We will be calling for proposals in an exploratory tender round in the middle of this year.

Increasing demand means that New Zealand needs new generation built at the rate of about 150 MW a year, on average.

Clearly the Te Apiti project will make a very significant contribution in 2005 and Meridian's other new generation proposals will ensure it continues to be a major investor in New Zealand's electricity system.

The government has set the target of a 30 PJ increase in renewable sources of consumer energy by 2012.

This project alone will contribute about 8 percent of this target.

The renewable energy target is one way we can reach for a sustainable energy future for New Zealand.

We are also amending the Resource Management Act to give greater weight to renewable energy when considering resource consents.

Consultation with local communities will still be essential, however, and I would like to finish by noting that Meridian’s proposal would not have reached this stage without support from the people of the Wairarapa. It is great to see such a positive attitude from groups in the area towards the development of Te Apiti, and to wind farms generally.

I note that the Tararua District Council promotes the wind turbines as a “majestic” sight on its website, encouraging visitors to the area to go and see the turbines while in the district. I would like to think that other communities will follow your example in turning on to the benefits of environmentally friendly power generation.

I wish you well with this project as it develops and I look forward to the next one.

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