The wind energy industry, meeting in Hamilton this week, is calling on planners to help it gear up for substantial growth by identifying “outstanding landscapes” it can avoid or work around.
New Zealand Wind Energy Association chief executive Eric Pyle said central and local government needed to identify such landscapes to help the industry move forward, and the Waikato Regional Council was already showing the way.
“Some councils are doing well, Environment Waikato is well down the track in identifying landscapes,” Pyle said.
More than 250 people attended the wind energy generation annual conference at Claudelands this week, the first time it has been held in Waikato.
Pyle said the choice of Hamilton was a “celebration” of the Te Uku wind farm.
The industry conservatively expects 20 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity to be generated by wind by 2030. Currently 5 per cent is wind generated.
Pyle said 20 per cent is 3500 megawatts, and the projection was based on conservative growth.
With the Te Uku, near Raglan, farm and three more consented for Waikato, the region could be generating up to 700mgw by 2030, which was around 20 per cent of the expected 3500mgw wind generation. One of the consented farms is Contact Energy’s planned Hauauru ma raki farm, which would run from south of Port Waikato to Te Akau, and generate up to 504mgw of power to around 170,000 homes from 168 turbines.
Contact Energy this week said a decline in electricity demand had put the big farm plan on hold.
But Pyle said the wind industry is assuming electricity demand will pick up.
Two other wind farms have been consented for south of the Kawhia harbour.
Pyle said national opinion surveys showed wind is the preferred form of new generation, and the industry is improving its identification of new sites.
But it was time the country started identifying and managing outstanding landscapes like it does water and other resources, he said. This would help the industry avoid such areas or design farms around them.
“That would be a major step forward and start to reduce the arguments and debate around wind farming. And it’s good planning.”
Waikato Regional Council’s proposed regional policy statement includes an overview of “outstanding natural features and landscapes”. Pyle’s group has made submissions on the policy statement.
The “outstanding” areas include Tongariro National Park, Kaimanawa Mountains, Mt Karioi, Coromandel Range and Moehau Range, Mt Maungatautari and Mt Pirongia, Lake Taupo, Cathedral Cove, Shakespeare Cliff and coastline south of Hahei, and the northern tip of Coromandel Peninsula and western slopes of Moehau Range out to the coast.
This week’s conference heard 75 per cent of New Zealand electricity is supplied through renewable energy sources and the Government target for renewable generation is 90 per cent by 2025.
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