Friday, July 21, 2006

More wind

The Environment Court has approved two wind farms in Hawke's Bay. The first, Hawke's Bay Wind Farms' Maungaharuru site, would have 75 turbines generating 225 MW. The second, at Titiokura, would initially be 48 MW, but has already been granted resource consents for a further 111 MW (though the expansion has also been appealed to the Environment Court). Each of these farms is larger than any in New Zealand at the moment (hell, Maungaharuru is larger than all of them put together), and together they would save around 571,000 tons of CO2.

The interesting part will be construction. With two large wind farms being built in Hawke's Bay, and hopefully Project Westwind near Wellington as well, it will be a race to see which one is up and generating first...

Also in the pipeline, Meridian has started consulting on its proposed Lammermoor wind farm in Central Otago. If this goes ahead, it will initially be around 150 MW, but will expand to over 600 MW, making it New Zealand's third largest power station overall. But it might not be plain sailing; this weeks' Listener has a piece (preview here) on local opposition to the project, and I can't really blame them. Central Otago's landscape could be considered pretty, and I can understand that some might not think turbines will be the best addition to the landscape. But that's what the RMA process is supposed to be about - local communities deciding for themselves what value they attach to things like landscapes and silence, and approving or refusing projects accordingly.


It will be a miracle if the HB wind farm ever gets into operation. Unison, which is behind it, is currently before the commerce commission for over inflating its prices, something that was necessitated following some bad purchase decisions. Once the commerce commission is finished with it, Unison won't have the financial clout to even start the project.

Wind farms are think-big styled projects. I don't think they have much of a future. Consumers have to take energy needs into their own hands and invest in solar power. That is where the future lies for domestic power, I believe.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/21/2006 05:57:00 PM

There's been a fair bit of anti-wind in the ODT aswell; but there's also been defence via rationality.

Most of the Anti is bullshit, but it's deeply believed down here (y'know, Auckland's just a drain on the country and should pay all the costs themselves).
Personally I find nothing more beautiful and elegant than a giant device deriving masses of electricity from thin air; and we do get some awesome wind hereabouts.

As for wind generators, the numbers are clear, other than dirty coal (which won't get past the RMA any time soon) it's the cheapest by far in NZ's winds and is a compliment to the current hydro. It'd cost about 1000 times as much for everyone to switch to personal solar electric.
Solar heating is good though, water pre-heaters and in-block radiant heating are excellent, though still a big initial outlay that most people won't touch.

There's some early talk of a massive battery lake up off the Clutha to store autumn surplus for generation in the dry times, which has promise for making all the holding lakes work more efficiently. Very expensive of course, and an RMA nightmare, especially with Federated Farmers on a water storage push.

Posted by tussock : 7/23/2006 02:05:00 AM

Those are relevent comments. You say with regards to solar power:

still a big initial outlay that most people won't touch.

I say that this is something that consumers have to overcome. Consumers have to take more responsibility for their own power generation. Having your own solar power generation means you are independent of power cuts, have control over costs (not at mercy of line charges) and with peak petrol and introduction of hybrid cars, the door opens for some of that energy to be used to recharge the car.

Think big energy generators such as coal, wind and hydro will always be needed for industry whose intense energy requirements cannot be met by solar.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/24/2006 09:09:00 AM

"But that's what the RMA process is supposed to be about - local communities deciding for themselves what value they attach to things like landscapes and silence, and approving or refusing projects accordingly."

Unfortunately, this leads to outbreaks of NIMBY, overpowering the national interest.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/24/2006 11:03:00 AM

Anon: I think past experience have shown that New Zealanders prefer the risk of empowering NIMBYs to the dangers of central government running roughshod over local communities, as they did with the Clyde Dam.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/24/2006 12:17:00 PM

I disagree. My suburb would have a nicer landscape and be quieter if the Northwestern motorway was grubbed up and replaced by a park (or even if the current bus lane wasn't beeing built). This would, of course, be quite a bad idea for all the West Aucklanders who need to get to work.

People will never want anything built that affects their own area - but some things are essential for the nation and secure, sustainable energy is one of them. Central gocvernment should make the call in these cases, and if people don't like it they can vote accordingly at the next election.

Posted by Rich : 7/27/2006 10:27:00 AM