High on the hills above Makara the concrete footprints of a huge wind farm are being punched into the ground.
Concrete has now been poured on 26 of 62 turbine foundations, scattered across the 55-square-kilometre site of Meridian Energy’s West Wind project on Wellington’s southwest coast.
Each of the pads is 15 metres across and 1.5 metres deep, containing 48 tonnes of reinforced steel and 370 cubic metres of concrete. The pads will hold the turbines in place as the area’s formidable winds whip against them.
Those winds are expected to help the $400 million project generate 140 megawatts – enough power for 70,000 homes.
The wind farm is “right on schedule”, project manager Royden Mayfield says.
A mini-village has been created as the project moves ahead, with up to 250 people on site at any one time.
It is planned to have the 111-metre-high turbines fully operational by the end of next year. Each turbine will have three 40-metre-long blades, each weighing eight tonnes.
The turbine towers are being built in South Korea, and the blades and gearing manufactured in Denmark.
The parts will be shipped to Picton before being barged to Oteranga Bay, where national electricity grid company Transpower’s Cook Strait cable link comes ashore.
At the bay, work on a temporary wharf to bring the hardware ashore is advancing quickly.
“It’s like a big Meccano set basically,” senior civil engineer Chris Jones said.
The wharf will be 128 metres long when it is finished in July, with two “fingers” at the end, allowing barges to dock between them with turbine parts.
The parts will be stored at the bay before being taken up to the wind farm site on a specially built road.
Meridian has worked closely with Transpower to make sure there was no disruption to Cook Strait electricity or fibre-optic cables.
The West Wind project has faced strong opposition from people living near the site.
Objectors are concerned about the size and noise of the turbines, some less than a kilometre from houses.
BIG JOB: Workers prepare the concrete footprints of a huge wind farm project on Wellington’s southwest coast.
By Paul Easton
The Dominion Post
17 June 2008
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