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Wind farm construction to begin in April  

Credit:  By Rebecca Fox, Otago Daily Times, www.odt.co.nz 20 January 2011 ~~

Construction of the nine-turbine wind farm at Mt Stuart, near Milton, will start in April, Pioneer Generation announced yesterday.

The company was finalising contracts with Spanish-based firm Gamesa for the turbines which had allowed it to finally release the cost of the project as being $17 million, Pioneer’s chief executive Fraser Jonker said.

A resource consent was granted last year for the 7.65MW wind farm on the southwestern side of the Manuka Gorge.

It aimed to produce enough electricity to meet the annual energy needs of about 3350 homes and would feed it into the grid through the OtagoNet network by December this year.

Pioneer had selected G52 turbines, whose components would mostly be made at Gamesa’s China plant, he said.

The 850kW wind turbine generators with a three-bladed rotor, 52m in diameter, would each produce 2845MWh per annum and start producing power when the wind speed reached 14.5kmh, gaining maximum power at wind speeds above 61kmh.

Components would begin arriving at Port Chalmers at the end of July and would be transported to the site by road, Mr Jonker said.

As the units were smaller than those being taken to the Mahinerangi wind farm, they would not be as challenging to transport.

“They’re significantly shorter, about 15m shorter, than the longest component for Mahinerangi.”

The project had been made possible by the world economic crisis which had meant prices for wind turbines had eased, making the Mt Stuart project viable, he said.

By April, the company planned to have in place a community liaison group, which was one of its consent conditions.

“It’ll be a body to ensure we keep in touch with the community and an opportunity to work with them.”

The company was also continuing to work with three affected parties regarding finalising their screening planting.

Pioneer Generation is based in Alexandra and is 100% owned by the Central Lakes Trust.

It owns and operates 13 hydro-electric power stations and one wind farm in Central Otago and Southland.

New Zealand Wind Energy Association chief executive Fraser Clark said the Mt Stuart project reinforced that wind energy was a viable and cost-effective source of electricity.

Five companies were now building wind farms across the country, and several other companies were progressing potential projects, Mr Clark said.

These projects, including Mt Stuart and Mahinerangi, would increase New Zealand’s installed wind capacity by 25%.

“Mt Stuart will complement Pioneer Generation’s existing renewable generation.

“At the same time, it will provide a local and low-cost source of electricity,” he said.

Source:  By Rebecca Fox, Otago Daily Times, www.odt.co.nz 20 January 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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