Pioneer Generation Limited says it is investigating the potential for several more wind farms in Southland and Otago, following the start of construction at the Flat Hill Wind Farm near Bluff on Monday.
The eight-turbine wind farm, 3km west of Bluff, will power about 2500 homes when it is complete later this year.
Project manager Tony Jack said on a good day, the wind farm would supply nearly enough power to meet the electricity needs of Bluff.
“The connection goes directly into the Bluff substation, so it’s not possible to say exactly which homes it will be powering,” Jack said.
“In terms of Bluff, it’s going to provide most of its requirements on a good day.
“When the wind’s not blowing it will be situation normal and power will just come from the local grid and outside sources.”
Jack said the wind farm owners, Alexandra-based company Pioneer Generation Limited, was looking at several sites throughout Otago and Southland with a view to constructing further wind farms.
Whether the plans became reality would depend not only on the site, but on electricity prices and international shipping rates for components, he said.
Jack would not elaborate on specific locations, but said the sites were scattered throughout the two provinces.
“If all those things pan out, it’s quite possible and highly likely there will be more wind farms in the foreseeable future.”
Pioneer Generation already operates the Mt Stuart Wind Farm in Clutha and the Horseshoe Bend Wind Farm in Central Otago.
The New Zealand Wind Energy Association website says there are two other wind farms operating in the south – White Hill in Mossburn and Mahinerangi in Clutha – while a 183-turbine site at Kaiwera Downs near Gore has been consented.
There was a growing demand for electricity throughout New Zealand, and Southland was no different, he said.
Population growth and increased electricity consumption was driving the demand.
“The scale of wind farms that Pioneer Generation are dealing with don’t tend to have a major influence on the market,” Jack said.
“Pioneer’s wind farms basically supply into the local grid, but on a national level, every bit helps and having a lot of smaller wind farms saves having to build a lot of big stuff [to meet the demand].”
Jack said the final components for the Flat Hill Wind Farm had arrived at the site from South Port last week, with the first tower section erected on Monday.
The construction phase was expected to last one month, with the first turbine due to start generating power in June, he said.
The $16 million wind farm is expected to be fully functional by October.
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