Wednesday, October 26, 2005

More wind?

Critics of wind energy like to pretend it is a fringe technology which will never contribute to New Zealand's electricity supply. Why? Well, one reason is that all developments so far have been relatively small - the largest, Te Apiti, is only 91MW, around a quarter the size of the average gas-turbine. That's already changing, with several projects announced in the 200 - 250 MW range, equalling the output of many of our hydro schemes. And now Meridian seems set to put the boot in. In order to meet demand from the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter (New Zealand's biggest single user of electricity, using 15% of our total annual output), Meridian is planning a 650 MW wind farm in Otago. That wouldn't just be the largest windfarm in New Zealand, it would be one of the country's largest generators - larger than the Clyde Dam, and almost twice the size of Might River's coal-fired Marsden B station. If completed, only Huntly and Manapouri would be larger.

Currently, Meridian is gathering wind-speed data to assess the viability of the project. But the fact they're willing to contemplate a project this big is good news for the future of wind (and sustainable energy) in New Zealand.


I guess what they would plan to do is shutdown Manapouri to save water on windy days.

Posted by Rich : 10/26/2005 12:30:00 PM

Pretty much (though on a much shorter timespan; hydro is quite responsive). That's the great advantage of wind in NZ - we have hydro for storage, so every GJ we take from the wind is a GJ that can be saved for winter.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 10/26/2005 12:48:00 PM

I've noticed a dramatic decline in westerly wind speed in the lower South Island this year. We just don't get the steady 10-30kt breezes we used to.
Perhaps we could just plug Parliament into the national grid as the biggest wind farm of them all? Gerry Brownlee must be worth a few gigabites of wind on his own.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/26/2005 06:23:00 PM

Thank you Idiot /Savant for ssome sweet reason as far as the value of wind generation is concerned particularly in relation to Hydro saving a you point out. All we need to do now is convince the anti wind farm brigade that this is far far less damaging to the environment than fossil or ,dare I say it, Nuclear can ever be.
I feel the comment about Brownlee is misguided as he may well be more useful in supplying a methane driven generator.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/26/2005 10:55:00 PM