National Policy Statement provides impetus for wind energy expansion
The National Policy Statement on Renewable Electricity Generation is a new piece of legislation under the Resource Management Act that is intended to assist with the achievement of the Government’s target that 90% of New Zealand’s electricity will be generated from renewables by 2025. Although this is far ahead of many developed nations, we already benefit from around 75% renewable generation mainly through a legacy of hydro-electric installations.
While achieving this target will be challenging, it reflects the expectation that cost-effective renewable energy will continue to be a source of competitive advantage for NZ well into the future. Achieving this target will be challenging, with growing demand and limited opportunities for more hydro. It will also require significant new investment, creating challenges for the way that development is managed under the RMA.
Announced in April, the new legislation came into effect from 13 May. The NPS requires decision makers to consider the development, operation, maintenance, and upgrading of all renewable generation, including wind farms, as a matter of national significance from that date.
The NPS is intended to ensure that the benefits are appropriately recognised and weighted in the RMA’s planning and consenting processes. It does not give renewable energy projects a “free ride” through the consenting process, and new wind energy projects will need to continue to demonstrate their existing high levels of environmental performance.
Wind, together with geothermal is expected to make the greatest contribution to achieving the target. It is not unreasonable then to envisage wind providing 20% of New Zealand’s electricity by around 2030, a considerable increase on 4% today.
The New Zealand Wind Energy Association is working with several agencies in developing guidance for local authorities, seeking to translate this new national policy into delivery of the goals.
We were very privileged to have the Environment Minister, Dr Nick Smith announce this new NPS at the New Zealand Wind Energy Conference in April. You can find his speech here.
That speech acknowledged the industry’s commitment to high quality development: “We are all starting to understand that wind farms can be designed and built in a way that fits with local conditions – be that resource availability, electricity demand, or site constraints – and from small scale projects to larger ‘utility-scale’ power plants.”
And the industry’s viability and potential; “You will know better than anyone just what a clean, cost-effective and renewable resource we have in wind. It is one of the renewable sources of energy that this Government would like to see New Zealand harness further.”
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Consent progress for wind farms
Illustrating the potential for growth, several wind farms have moved forward in the resource consenting process in recent months.
In June Acting Minister for Energy and Resources, Hekia Parata, welcomed the formal granting of resource consents for New Zealand’s largest consented wind farm near Raglan, Hauauru ma Raki.
“The decision by the Board of Inquiry to grant resource consents for 168 wind turbines and designation for the transmission lines is another step forward for renewable electricity generation in New Zealand," said Ms Parata.
The Board of Inquiry’s report and commentary can be found here.
Contact is not proceeding with the project immediately, but continuing to monitor costs and potential viability with a view to proceeding when the time is right.
Meanwhile, public submissions on Meridian Energy’s Project Hurunui wind farm in North Canterbury
have closed. The Hurunui District Council has agreed to Meridian’s request for the project to be referred directly to the Environment Court without going through the Council level hearing, as the project appeared likely to be appealed to the Court after that stage.
Hurunui District Council’s announcement is available here and Meridian’s statement here.
In Christchurch, the Environment Court hearings into the proposed Mount Cass wind farm are underway. The project by Canterbury electricity lines company MainPower was rejected by the Hurunui District Council, a move which lead to the Environment Court appeal. The hearing will be held over several weeks between now and early-August.
Mediation before these final hearings produced several changes to the project layout, reducing the amount of native vegetation and limestone pavement that needs to be cleared.
The consent process for the proposed Turitea wind farm in Manawatu has also progressed. The Board of Inquiry has issued a draft decision, allowing the wind farm to go ahead but with a significant number of turbines removed from the original proposal.
Mighty River Power has asked to add further turbines into the areas of the project that the Board of Inquiry appears to have accepted as being appropriate for development, to improve overall viability of the scheme. There will be no further hearing of evidence on this request and the Board’s final decision will be based on the various submissions received on both this request and the original draft decision.
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Progress on other sites
The Manawatu is the area in New Zealand that generates the most electricity from wind. The NZ Windfarms’ site at Te Rere Hau has been contributing to this during its development over several stages for five years and now the final phase is generating power. This last phase completes the project started in 2006.
Meanwhile, construction at the Mount Stuart wind farm in Otago is ahead of schedule, with completion due at the end of this year. Construction of foundations is continuing and the turbines are due to arrive in Dunedin this week, also 2 weeks ahead of time. Developer Pioneer Generation reports that there is growing positive community interest and the local community is very good to deal with.
You can find more details here.
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New CEO for New Zealand Wind Energy Association
A new Chief Executive has been announced for the New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA). Eric Pyle will take up the position from 18 July.
Eric’s previous role was as Director of Environmental and Social Development at the Ministry of Research, Science & Technology, where he had responsibility for their energy-related activities including the integration of renewable energy into the electricity grid. He has also held senior positions at Forest and Bird, WWF, Ministry for the Environment and DoC.
"New Zealand is highly regarded overseas for its high percentage of renewable energy and the performance of our wind farms,” says Eric. “We have an industry that already harnesses our fantastic wind resource. It’s a strong base to build from and I look forward to working with the wind energy industry, the broader electricity sector, government and communities to help develop wind generation in New Zealand.”
NZWEA co-Chair Deion Campbell comments; “The Board are delighted to have obtained the services of Eric. His breadth of experience in energy, government, the environment, industry and community engagement will prove invaluable as New Zealand’s wind energy sector grows towards generating 20% of New Zealand’s electricity by 2030.”
Fraser Clark, NZWEA CEO for the past 5 years, is leaving to take up a management position at the Electricity Authority.
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Deloitte Confirms Economic Viability of Wind Farms in New Zealand
Research the economics of wind energy on the internet and you will find a number of reports and facts. However these rarely have much relevance to New Zealand, home to some of the most productive wind farms in the World and the only country that can deliver economically viable wind energy projects without subsidy.
Now globally respected consultancy Deloitte has investigated the economics of wind energy in New Zealand, using actual data from local projects and often confidential facts and figures. The findings confirm that wind energy is a viable source of electricity generation in New Zealand, able to stand on its own two feet without Government subsidy or support from special guaranteed electricity prices.
Analysing the Long Run Marginal Cost (the price required for the electricity generated to ensure that it covers its operating and investment costs) of the types of generation we have in New Zealand, including gas, coal and other renewables, Deloitte found that wind energy compares very favourably with investment in other types of generation. In fact, it is among the best.
So it should come as no surprise that wind energy is the only form of new generation being pursued by all five major generators in New Zealand.
Paul Callow, Partner at Deloitte, gave a presentation on his findings to our annual Conference earlier this year, and you can find a copy of this here. Our announcement and a link to download the PDF of the report can be found here.
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Busy conference shows way forward for Wind Energy
The annual New Zealand Wind Energy Conference was held in Wellington this April. This is the year’s biggest opportunity for people and companies interested in the industry to catch up on the latest information from NZ and around the world, plus enjoy unmatched networking opportunities.
The conference was the biggest ever, with record numbers of delegates, sponsors and speakers, reflecting the strong and growing interest in the industry.
This year, subjects ranged from case studies on recent projects, through new national policy and the implications for the wind industry, to technology, the environment, international views and local Government perspectives.
You can find copies of the presentations on our web site.
We are already working on the next New Zealand Wind Energy Conference, so keep an eye on our events page.
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NZWEA meets with Energy Minister Hekia Parata
Recently the New Zealand Wind Energy Association had an introductory meeting and presentation with New Zealand’s Acting Energy Minister, Hekia Parata. Minister Parata is acting in this role while Gerry Brownlee is occupied with the Christchurch earthquake recovery, so is expected to be busy in the role for some time yet.
It gave NZWEA an opportunity to bring to her attention the extent and maturity of the industry, recent progress in the wind energy sector and its place in New Zealand’s renewable energy future.
This was an opportunity to present the significant investment that has been occurring in the sector, with more than NZ$300m spent in the last year, and the flow-on benefits that are being experienced in regional economies.
We raised the prospect of wind supplying as much as 20% of New Zealand’s electricity supply by 2030, and backed this up with the preliminary outputs of some economic modelling that we have been undertaking that suggests this would provide an extra $60 of annual disposable income to every person in the country.
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First Global Wind Day for New Zealand a big success
A variety of activities around the country marked New Zealand’s first celebration of Global Wind Day on 15 June.
The day was superbly kicked off by TVNZ Breakfast weather presenter Tamati Coffey broadcasting from Tararua wind farm near Palmerston North. It was a great showcase for wind power, with Tamati’s enthusiasm matched by positive comments about wind energy from the studio presenters.
Schools around the country are embracing wind energy. A number requested Global Wind Day paper windmills to use in class and we have seen increased interest in our web site school resources.
NZWEA also launched two competitions for schools. An art competition for high schools and colleges and a picture competition for primary schools will ask for a creative expression of wind power, with enticing prizes for students and schools sponsored by EECA.
The competition is still open until the end of term, so if you have contact with any schools there’s still time to encourage them to take part. Details are on our web site.
There was also a photography contest asking for pictures inspired by the power of the wind hosted by Stuff.co.nz, plus other competitions to win trips to the top of wind turbines.
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Around the news
Global Wind day and interest in wind energy was covered by a number of publications, for example this story, and the Dominion Post article on wind and its contribution to New Zealand’s energy here.
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has recognised the increasing role of wind energy with this announcement. They also published a useful mythbuster, addressing ten wind myths.
Meanwhile, two new surveys point to increasing international support for renewables and consumer preferences. A Vestas sponsored report shows that around the world, consumers are heavily in favour of renewable energy – 90% want more. Many consumers would also prefer consumer brands produced with wind energy. You can download the Global Consumer Wind Study 2011 report here.
Financial reporting powerhouse Bloomberg has produced a survey of major corporations including league tables of their renewable energy use.
While these reports may not directly increase investment in wind energy, they do point to consumer interest in the energy sources behind products and services and possible ‘buyer power’ in influencing where energy comes from.
This is backed up by the launch of the Wind Made brand on Global Wind Day. The brand seeks to deliver some extra customer appeal to products that can trace at least 25% of their energy input from wind generation.
The interesting thing for NZ is, if the world thinks that 25% wind is a selling point, why aren’t we selling them 75% renewable?
Wind Energy powers to 4.2% share
The latest energy quarterly statistics for New Zealand reveal that wind energy made up 4.2% of all electricity generation for the country. Total renewable generation was at 79%, the highest since 1996.
You can find wind energy generation info here.
Audi chooses renewable energy
German car maker Audi has chosen to finance four wind turbines in the North Sea to contribute to Germany’s power supply. The equivalent amount will be taken from the grid to charge Audi’s fleet of electric powered e-tron cars, produce hydrogen for fuel cells and e-gas for CNG vehicles.
Google goes for Wind
Google has teamed up with Citibank to finance a wind farm aimed at providing renewable energy to the search giant’s data centres. The organisations will each invest US$55 million in a facility in the Mojave Desert of Southern California.
Get up close to Te Uku wind farm
The development of the Te Uku wind farm near Raglan has seen much local public support. Now thanks to a team effort between Waikato District Council, local land owners and developers Meridian, the public can get even closer to the wind farm through the creation and naming of a walking / mountain bike track through the site offering spectacular views.
The name of the 21km cross country track was opened up as a public competition, with the winning entry ‘Pipiwharauroa Trail’. The trail is due to open later this month.
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