File:Brooklyn wind turbine.jpg

As of early 2008, wind power in New Zealand has an installed capacity of 321 MW, nearly double the 2006 capacity. Wind power now provides enough electricity to meet the needs of 145,000 New Zealand households,[1] and supplies approximately 2.5% of the country's electricity demand.[2] A further 172.6 MW of wind farms is under construction, with approval being sought for another 2,054 MW.[1]

Wind resources Edit

New Zealand has outstanding wind resources, due to its position astride the Roaring Forties, resulting in nearly continuous strong westerly winds over many locations, unimpeded by other nearby landmasses at similar latitude.[3] One study found that using 1% of total available land for wind farms would produce approximately 100,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year.[4] This is roughly three times the annual electricity consumption of New Zealand in 2001. Nearly continuous however does not mean continuous: a high-pressure weather system can cover the entire country, meaning no significant winds anywhere.


Main article: Environmental effects of wind power

Wind farms and turbines generate a wide range of opinions from outright opposition to widespread acceptance. Opposition is due to noise, aesthetics and ecological factors.

Wind farmsEdit

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Wind farms in New Zealand[1]
Name First commissioned Installed capacity (MW) Projected capacity (MW)
Awhitu Wind Farm proposed 0 25
Hau Nui Wind Farm 1997 8.8 8.8
Hauauru ma raki proposed 0 540
Hawke's Bay Wind Farm proposed 0 225
Kaiwera Downs Wind Farm proposed 0 240
Long Gully Wind Farm proposed 0 10
Mahinerangi Wind Farm proposed 0 200
Mill Creek Wind Farm proposed 0 71
Mount Cass Wind Farm proposed 0 69
Project Hayes proposed 0 630
Project West Wind under construction 0 142.6
Tararua Wind Farm 1999 160 160
Te Apiti Wind Farm 2004 90.8 90.8
Te Rere Hau Wind Farm 2006 2.5 48.5
Te Uku Wind Farm proposed 0 84
Turitea Wind Farm proposed 0 360
Waitahora Wind Farm proposed 0 177
White Hill Wind Farm 2007 58.0 58.0

Wind turbinesEdit

Wind turbines have been installed at Southbridge in Canterbury,[5] Gebbies Pass near Christchurch and at Brooklyn in Wellington.

Generation in 2007Edit

Main article: Wind power generation in New Zealand (2007)

Data on wind power generation is gathered by the Electricity Commission.

Coping with intermittencyEdit

File:Windflow's prototype windmill.jpg
Main article: Wind power#Intermittency and penetration limits

Wind farms partner nicely with hydro plants on the same grid to create combined power plants, because hydro plants can be uprated with extra turbine units to provide highly dispatchable peak generating capacity above the average flows of their rivers, at lower cost than other peak power options.[6] During periods of high wind and low electricity demand, a hydro plant can reduce its output to accumulate water in its reservoir, whilst wind power handles a higher share of the grid load. Then during periods of low wind, the hydro plant can raise its output temporarily, drawing down its reservoir a bit. Given New Zealand's large proportion of hydroelectric generating capacity, it is better-positioned than most nations to uprate its generating stations and grid to handle intermittent power sources such as wind and solar. The available virtual energy storage represented by hydro plants can be one of the main factors limiting the maximum amount of wind and solar power that a grid can accommodate. Further increases in intermittent power source development may require construction of pumped-storage hydroelectricity and implementation of energy demand management techniques.

Other nations also plan to generate more of their electricity from renewable sources, and are researching solutions for the intermittency problem. The Institute for Solar Energy Supply Technology of the University of Kassel pilot-tested a combined power plant linking solar, wind, biogas and hydrostorage to provide load-following power around the clock, entirely from renewable sources.[7] According to a 2007 Stanford University study published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, interconnecting ten or more wind farms allows 33 to 47% of the total energy produced to be used as reliable, baseload electric power, as long as minimum criteria are met for wind speed and turbine height.[8][9]

See also Edit




Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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