Investigations into the suitability of the Tirohia site for the proposed Kaimai Wind Farm began in 2005 although CEO Glenn Starr admits research into the ideal site began many years earlier.
“The need to generate power from environmentally sustainable sources is a concept most Kiwis embrace but this is often accompanied by a desire for the sources of that generation to be out of sight.
“However, the reality is that while there are lots of remote locations in New Zealand, they are mostly constrained by their remoteness from the national grid and transport routes. To be viable, wind farms in New Zealand need to be of moderate scale (to fit into the demand gap in the market) and be close to roads and grid; they obviously also need to be sited where there is an excellent wind resource.”
Glenn Starr said the three privately owned properties which are the site of the proposed wind farm have the right topography, adjacency to the national grid and have the potential wind strength and consistency.
“In 2005 we erected a 20m tall monitoring mast on the site to measure wind strength. Initial results supported the erection of two further monitoring masts (50m and 60m tall). Data received over the intervening years has confirmed the site has the wind strength and consistency needed for a viable wind farm.
“The site of the proposed farm adjoins DOC forest park land which has significant bush cover that provides habitat to indigenous bats and birds. There are also scattered bush remnants on the site property which have the potential to provide some habitat. To gain an informed understanding of the ecology, acoustic receivers were installed in several locations in 2007 to measure resident populations and movement. More than a decade on we have a pretty comprehensive set of information on bird and bat numbers and movement – data which has helped us in the placement of the proposed turbines and in developing mitigations to minimize impact.”
Glenn Starr said a range of investigations have taken place over the last decade to test the suitability of the site, including slope stability, landscape and wind.
“All of these insights have enabled us to tailor the proposal to the environment. For example, the original proposal was for around 60 small turbines but technological advances in turbine design, combined with indepth knowledge of the site, has enabled us to come up with a design concept which will, hopefully, see 24 turbines generate power – enough for around 50,000 homes.”
Glenn Starr said all of the research conducted to test the suitability of the site is now public and can be accessed on the Hauraki District Council website.
“Our application for consent to construct and operate the wind farm has been lodged with the Hauraki District and Waikato Regional Councils with a Hearing, hopefully, later this year.
“In the meantime, we will continue to work with the wider Paeroa community to understand and, hopefully, alleviate any concerns.
“The proposed Kaimai Wind Farm aligns with the Government’s plan for a renewable, sustainable energy for all New Zealanders.”
Kaimai Wind Farm Ltd has lodged resource consent applications with Hauraki District Council and Waikato Regional Council for consent to establish and operate a 24 turbine wind farm on the northern reaches of the Kaimai Ranges at Tirohia (south of Paeroa).
The resource consent application to the Hauraki District Council seeks consent to all land-use activities associated with the construction and operation of the proposed wind farm.
The application site covers 771 and 604 Rotokohu Road and 6356 SH26 (1304 hectares).
The proposed turbines, which are of two different sizes, have a hub height of 110m and 130m. Each turbine has three rotors measuring 146m and 160m respectively. The total height of the turbines, when measured from the base to the tips, equates to 180m and 207m respectively.
Proposed associated structures include a substation, two lattice transmission towers, two overhead lines, and 18.9km of roading – all within the application site.
Earthworks will include 900,000m3 of cut material and 113,500m3 of engineered fill.
It is estimated that 53,000m3 of finishing aggregate will be needed for the on-site roads. This is proposed to be obtained from roading excavations and one on-site quarry.
The main site access is proposed to be from the south- from Wright Road, which comes off Rawhiti Road – the turbine parts are proposed to be transported from Tauranga, through Matamata-Piako District to the site. All other construction and materials transport traffic is also proposed to access the site from Wright Road.
The resource consent application to the Waikato Regional Council seeks consent to specific aspects of land use – removal of vegetation, earthworks, to permit the discharge of surplus soil and surface water associated with the construction phase of the project and culvert upgrades.