A $300 million wind farm is planned for the coastline near Waverley, and providing resource consents are successful, work will start erecting up to 45 turbines in August next year.
Allco Wind Energy NZ (AWE) has been investigating an area at the northern end of the former Waipipi ironsands site.
The number of turbines being considered for the site would produce up to 135 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the equivalent of 59,000 homes.
Bernhard Voll, technical director for the Waverley wind farm, told the Chronicle yesterday that he would be in Waverley and Patea next week for two public meetings when the project will be explained to the community.
“Our meetings next week are to gain some input from the community and assess their views about a wind farm in their area,” Mr Voll said from his Sydney office.
“They may have some issues with ecological impact, visual impact or noise that they want to have answered.”
After the community meetings his company will finalise the wind farm layout, taking those views into account and then preparing its resource consent application. It is that consent which will determine whether or not the wind farm proceeds.
Allco Wind Energy NZ has interests in other wind farm projects around the country, including one in Manawatu and another in Wairarapa, but none of them are operational yet Mr Voll said their tests at Waipipi ““ an isolated area of the coastline a few kilometres from Waverley ““ were positive enough for the company to confirm the project and since then they have been negotiating with landowners.
“We would be leasing land from them but their farming operations could continue because the turbines don’t affect the farming activity.”
It would take about a year to have all the turbines up and running.
Mr Voll said they would be importing the wind turbines because the sole New Zealand manufacturer “doesn’t produce the type of turbines we want to use there”.
Last year the project team installed wind monitoring masts to assess the potential of the prevailing winds and it showed up the potential of the site.
The idea of wind farming in the area is not new but Allco’s involvement is the first tangible sign that the coastline’s wind generation is being taken seriously.
The Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA) commissioned a report that looked at renewable energy resources in Taranaki, and that included the Patea and Waverley areas.
The study was done by Auckland firm Sinclair Knight Merz and released in July last year.
The report said while New Zealand’s attention to wind farms was low compared to most other countries, rising electricity prices made it an attractive alternative.
There are no wind farms in the region but the Sinclair Knight Merz report said the Patea-Waverley area, because it was not heavily populated, might be able to handle “one or two large scale wind farms”.
However, the report said developers would have to consider other factors including topography, population, distance to the national grid, accessibility and environmental factors such as proximity to native forests or DoC land.
Earlier studies showed wind speed on the Waverley and Patea coastline to be around 8-9 metres per second at about 60-80m height, which is the hub height of modern wind turbines.
Allco Wind Energy NZ is a wholly owned subsidiary of Allco Finance Group, an international financial services business which is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
It is currently investigating other wind farm opportunities in Australia and the United States and is involved in financing waste water facilities, power generation facilities, pipelines and port facilities around the world.
By John Maslin
28 April 2007
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