New wind farm a step towards secure future
New wind farm a step towards secure electricity
“Mahinerangi Wind Farm will show New Zealand the way towards a secure, low-cost and renewable electricity future,” said Fraser Clark, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA), welcoming TrustPower’s decision to construct the Mahinerangi Wind Farm in the Clutha District.
The 36-megawatt wind farm will feed electricity into the local network though the nearby Waipori hydro scheme, enabling TrustPower to make optimal use of the combined infrastructure to meet rising local electricity demand. “The synergy between these two generating schemes illustrates – at a regional level – what will be achieved on a national scale as wind energy is developed and operated in combination with existing hydro generation,” says Mr Clark.
A recent report by the Electricity Commission raised concerns that the electricity system may not have sufficient generating capacity to meet peak demand. This new concern adds to existing concerns that energy supplies are not sufficient to meet demand during dry years.
“New wind farms increase the overall amount of energy available in the electricity system, allowing flexible hydro infrastructure and valuable water resources to be used more efficiently to meet peaks in demand,” says Mr Clark. “Put simply, the use of wind enables water to be saved in storage lakes until the water is needed for meeting peaks in demand.
“Ultimately, this synergy provides New Zealand’s economy with a secure, low cost supply of electricity that is not affected by the increasing costs associated with fossil fuels and thermal generation.”
New Zealand has 11 operating wind farms. One of these, Te Rere Hau in the Manawatu, is being expanded and a 12th, Te Uku, is under construction in the Waikato. Operating wind capacity currently sits just under 500 megawatts, generating about 4 to 5% of our electricity.
When construction of Te Rere Hau, Te Uku, and Mahinerangi wind farms is complete, total installed capacity will rise to 614 megawatts.
NZWEA expects wind energy to provide 20% of New Zealand’s electricity by 2030. All of New Zealand’s major generators and several independent companies are investigating or seeking consent for wind farms.