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First power from Hemisphere's largest wind farm

Thursday, 05 August 2004 Media Statement

First power from site of Southern Hemisphere's largest wind farm

Electricity from the first turbines to be commissioned at Meridian's Te Apiti site near Palmerston North will today be connected to the national grid by Energy Minister, Pete Hodgson. With a total planned capacity of 90 MW, the site is set to be the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere.

"Wind power is enjoying unprecedented growth in New Zealand and is on track to have grown four fold by the end of the year to April 2005. Nationally, our wind resource is capable of supporting developments that could provide over 20 per cent of all our power needs," says Pete Hodgson.

The granting by government of tradable greenhouse gas emissions units enabled this development to go ahead sooner than it otherwise might. The units were awarded as part of the government's climate change policy under a scheme which has since developed into the Climate Change Office's Projects to Reduce Emissions programme. Tenders for a second round of this scheme open later this month, bringing the total number of emissions units offered under it to ten million.

"The prospects for wind have never looked better. There is a consensus that the country needs more generating capacity, wind power is the generation type most preferred by New Zealanders and wholesale power prices are now at a level where a growing number of wind projects are economically viable."

Seventeen turbines have now been commissioned. When complete, there will be 55 turbines with a total generating capacity of around 90 MW, enough to supply around 32,000 homes. The site is expected to supply power over 40 per cent of the time, compared to 20 to 30 per cent which is the norm for wind farms internationally.


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