Wind farms in Central Otago could force out hydro power generation to the detriment of the national interest, Contact Energy claims.
Contact fears there is not enough spare transmission capacity for the Project Hayes wind farm proposed by rival generator Meridian Energy and wants an upgrade of Transpower’s lines network.
Contact Energy has submitted in favour of Project Hayes as long as it does not affect existing hydro generation.
Wind-generated electricity gets first call on the network, as it cannot be stored, but Contact is arguing its hydro schemes face similar constraints.
Contact general manager of operations David Thomas says in Contact’s submission to the upcoming Project Hayes consent hearing the Clutha River catchment essentially provided “run of river” electricity with limited ability to store water.
“Contact is concerned that without significant transmission upgrades, new wind energy in the system will lead to greater transmission constraints and further prevent Contact’s hydro plant from generating electricity,” he said.
“If this were to occur, then hydro generation would effectively be displaced by wind energy. Such an outcome would not be in the national interest,” he said.
Transpower last week told the National Business Review there was little spare capacity in the region’s network.
Contact operates the Clyde and Roxburgh hydro dams as well as providing energy from geothermal and oil-fired power stations in the North Island.
All those forms of generation can store raw energy to a certain extent, while wind farms can only generate when the wind is blowing.
By Diane Brown
Otago Daily Times
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