Two proposed wind farms in the Waikato would generate sufficient energy to provide electricity to all the homes affected by Monday’s black-out.
Ventus Energy is progressing two Waikato wind farms, Taumatatotara Wind Farm on the West Coast south of Kawhia Harbour and Kaimai Wind Farm in the hills above Paeroa.
“If the projects had been operating they would have easily met the shortfall in generation which blacked-out a large number of homes in the Waikato. Wind Data at the proposed 50MW Taumatatotara site demonstrated good wind resource between 6 and 9pm that would have supported approximately 15,000 houses. The proposed 150MW Kaimai project would have supported an additional 40,000 houses during that critical time,” Glenn Starr said.
“The length of time it now takes to find sites, secure rights and then progress applications of this nature through the Resource Management Act process generally takes eight years or more, during which time the turbine size typically changes.
“The Taumatatotara Windfarm was consented in 2008 after a four year consent and consultation period for 110m tall turbines. The consent was varied in 2011 when technology advances supported turbines being 121m high - which was a fast and efficient process that only took six months. In 2019, we began the variation process again, however expectations on studies required by the Councils had increased and became more difficult. This time around we applied to increase the tip height of the 11 northern turbines to 172.5m whilst surrendering 11 smaller southern turbines. The clear opinion of our technical and planning consultants is the changes results in an overall positive effect.
“Those 11 larger turbines will produce more power than the original 22 sought in 2008,” Starr said.
Glenn Starr hopes that construction of the 11 turbine (50MW) West Coast wind farm on privately owned land in the Waitomo District will commence this summer and be operational by the beginning of 2023.
“The Kaimai Wind Farm (150MW) was submitted to Hauraki District Council in mid 2018 following several years of studies and investigations. Over the past three years we have been carrying out further consultations, investigations and negotiations in response to objections before proceeding to a hearing. A hearing has recently been set down for late November 2021. We expect a decision on the application by March 2022.”
Starr said years of data confirm that the wind strength is very consistent and will almost always produce some generation from the two projects to support the network.
“It makes a lot of sense to locate generation plant close to the demand centres of Hamilton, Tauranga and Auckland which reduces electrical losses from transporting electricity long distance.
“Geographically dispersing wind farms is also essential for increased system stability. NZ has too many wind projects concentrated in the bottom half of the North Island which generally experience the same wind regimes at similar times. The sole upper North Island project – Te Uku – on Monday night generated electricity that was out of step with the more southern projects. That is a very good thing.
“Scale is also a factor as northern sites with viable grid connection options tend to be smaller in size. However, the consenting process generally becomes more difficult at the northern sites as the population density increases and more people object through the RMA process.”
Glenn Starr said “providing battery storage further north is also an option to increase system resilience which Transpower, to their credit, are now actively engaging in. However, in my view, that storage should be made available in the market place to enable good market functioning. Those whom hold storage in the NZ market also hold market power. Along with the Hamilton black out, the market also saw prices peak at $450,000/MWhr (normally c. $80/MWhr) which can destroy independent retail companies,” Glenn Starr said.
“We have conducted exhaustive analyses and consultation which align with the requirements of the RMA and which demonstrate the benefits which will be delivered from both projects,” Glenn Starr said. “We can only hope that New Zealand’s increasing reliance on sustainable, renewable electricity see these projects advance to the construction stage so that Kiwis will not endure more black-outs.”
Contact : Glenn Starr, CEO, Ventus Energy ph 021 416 305