November 21, 2007
New Zealand

Turbine waiting list hits wind farm

Wel Networks’ proposed Te Uku wind farm will provide enough electricity to supply 32,000 homes if it gets the green light.

But even if it is approved before the end of the year, it will be some time before the first switch is thrown, judging by the evidence of electricity generation engineering expert and project manager Roger Burchett at a Resource Management Act hearing in Ngaruawahia yesterday.

Mr Burchett gave a detailed description of how various components of the project would be constructed and how it would interact with Wel’s supply network. But he also noted that there was a two-year waiting list for the turbines to be delivered due to the surging global demand for wind turbines and shortage of manufacturing capacity.

This is one reason Wel is seeking a 10-year term longer than usual to give effect to any consents that are granted.

It also means Wel can’t determine exactly what machines will be used at the site, because they will be subject to price and availability.

That is bound to rankle with opposing submitters who will state their case later in the hearing. Several residents, fearful of noise and health issues associated with some turbines, have called for approval to be given only to specific makes and models.

Meanwhile, Mr Burchett explained the methods used to calculate the 28-turbine wind farm’s commercial viability, both regionally and nationally.

The wind farm has a projected output of 259 GWh/yr (gigawatt hours per year) and a CO2 emissions reduction value of 168,000 tonnes equivalent to about 39,000 cars given it would displace the need for a huge amount of thermal generation.

That gives it a carbon value of about $3.3 million per year at its average output under the carbon credits scheme.

Mr Burchett evaluated six other potential wind farm sites, to the south of Te Uku and as far north as Matira, the upper extreme of Wel’s network area.

“I found Te Uku to be a superior site to any of the alternatives evaluated,” he said, pointing to wind resource, construction suitability and its proximity to network connection and demand.

Wel Networks has 22,950 residential customers and 5000 commercial-industrial customers supplied from Te Kowhai.

This, Mr Burchett said, made it ideally located for Wel to minimise the economic and environmental costs of transmission, and match generation to load.

By Bruce Holloway

Waikato Times

21 November 2007

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