A $2 part is largely responsible for costing the Te Rere Hau wind farm $28,000 in revenue.
But the two-bladed turbines in the Tararua Range are now made of more sturdy stuff to ensure they can withstand the assault they receive from Manawatu winds.
One gearbox had minor damage last year after bolts broke in the casing joint while the turbine was parked stationary during gale force winds.
The problem was “right in the heart of the gearbox”, said Chris Freear, chief executive of New Zealand Windfarms, which owns half of Te Rere Hau.
“It happens with mechanical gear,” he said.
“There was a design issue with that particular component.”
That led to an upgrade of all five of the farm’s stage one gearboxes, resulting in a significant number of turbine operating hours being lost, New Zealand Windfarms commented in its six-month report to December 2007, released yesterday.
The farm had a number of relatively minor issues with the stage one turbines, Mr Freear and company chairman Derek Walker said in their review.
“This is not surprising given that we had very deliberately located stage one onto the windiest part of the property with the intention of robustly testing the Windflow 500 [model] before moving on to the next stages of the development,” they said.
“All issues have been resolved effectively by our turbine supplier, Windflow Technology, and where appropriate, modifications have been made that are being incorporated into all future turbines.”
The $28,000 would be covered by a warranty from Windflow Technology.
Mr Freear, who spoke at a Bio Commerce Centre seminar yesterday about the growing role of wind power in New Zealand’s energy scene, said Manawatu’s exceptional weather this summer allowed the wind farm to make a lot of progress on preparations for more turbines.
“Eighty percent of arterial roading for the whole farm is complete,” he said.
“By the middle of this year we will have almost completed the infrastructure for the whole farm.”
Stage two of the development, involving the installation of 28 turbines, was about two months behind the original schedule.
The farm has been working on completing a 33kV connection to a Tararua Windfarm substation, which has capacity to carry the power off the Te Rere Hau site.
Stage two is expected to generate electricity by the third quarter of 2008.
Te Rere Hau wind farm is a joint venture between New Zealand Windfarms and Australian consortium Babcock and Brown and NP Power.
The joint venture has consent for 97 turbines all up.
It plans to seek resource consent for 37 more turbines, but is yet to lodge an application.
By Grant Miller
28 February 2008
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