New Zealand: wind power capacity grew by just over 50% during 2009, with a record 171 megawatts installed

New Zealand’s installed wind energy capacity now sits at 497.3 MW, and total capacity from all forms of generation is about 9,400 MW.

 "This is an impressive achievement as in New Zealand there is no government support for wind energy beyond recognition of the wind resource and its viability," said Fraser Clark, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association.

New Zealand’s 10 wind farms have an installed capacity of 497.3 megawatts and generate about 3% of our electricity. Within 20 years wind energy is expected to be supplying up to 20% of New Zealand’s electricity, bringing with it benefits for consumers such as suppressing spot prices and long-term price certainty.

Wind energy is a price taker in New Zealand’s electricity market, as such it generally displaces higher priced forms of generation, which in New Zealand is often coal and gas. With no fuel costs and well understood operating costs, wind farms provide electricity generators with confidence in the cost of generating electricity well into the future.

"New Zealand is rich in natural, renewable resources that will provide us with clean, low cost and sustainable economic growth," concludes Mr Clark.

"Like overseas, energy security, electricity prices and environmental concerns are driving the growth of wind energy in New Zealand, making it an increasingly attractive option as a source of new generation" said Mr Clark. "The modified Emissions Trading Scheme, together with the 90% renewable energy target and the commitment under the Copenhagen Accord to reducing emissions to 10 to 20% below 1990 levels, puts New Zealand on track to a renewable, secure and independent energy future – well ahead of and at a lower cost than in the European Union and USA."

Wind generation for the 2009 September quarter was 372 gigawatt-hours, a 41% increase on the previous September quarter generation of 264 gigawatt-hours. As well, wind generation for the 12 months to September 2009 was 1244 gigawatt-hours, up 20% on the previous year. This increase is largely attributable to the successful commissioning of wind turbines at Meridian Energy’s West Wind wind farm, near Wellington, and NZ Windfarms’ Te Rere Hau wind farm, in the Manawatu.

These statistics show wind energy is making an important contribution to New Zealand’s electricity supply. "Past experience shows we need more diversity in generation types and energy sources to provide a secure supply of electricity in the future," says Mr Clark.

"With 497 megawatts of wind turbines installed, and a further 80 megawatts under construction, wind energy is providing much needed diversity in our electricity system. And the ongoing investigation and consenting of new wind farms sites across the country is essential for ensuring future generation can meet growing electricity demand." In its latest annual assessment of electricity security of supply the Electricity Commission indicated that investment in new generation is needed to maintain security margins beyond 2013.

New Zealand Total Installed Capacity

2000-36 MW
2001-36 MW
2002-36 MW
2003-36 MW
2004-168 MW
2005-168 MW
2006-171 MW
2007-322 MW
2008-326 MW
2009-497 MW

A study completed for the Electricity Commission (New Zealand’s electricity market regulator) indicated that the country’s economic wind resource is sufficient to meet annual demand several times over. The study identified that areas with an annual wind speed of greater than about 8.5 metres/second have the potential to generate over 50,000 GWh per year. An even larger resource was identified in the next band of wind speed, from 7.5 m/s to 8.5m/s. New Zealand’s total electricity generation in 2007 was 42,374 GWh.

The world’s wind power capacity grew by 31% in 2009, adding 37.5 gigawatts (GW) to bring total installations up to 157.9 GW, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. A third of these additions were made in China, which experienced yet another year of over 100% growth.

"The continued rapid growth of wind power despite the financial crisis and economic downturn is testament to the inherent attractiveness of the technology, which is clean, reliable and quick to install. Wind power has become the power technology of choice for a growing number of countries around the world," said Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General. "Copenhagen didn’t bring us any closer to a global price on carbon, but wind energy continued to grow due to national energy policy in our main markets and also because many governments prioritised renewable energy development in their economic recovery plans," he said.

Wind energy is now an important player in the world’s energy markets. The global wind market for wind turbines installations in 2009 was worth about 45 bn EUR or 63 bn US$. The Global Wind Energy Council estimates that around half a million people are now employed by the wind industry around the world.

The main markets driving this significant growth continue to be Asia, North America and Europe, each of which installed more than 10 GW of new wind capacity in 2009 – an amount that is more than New Zealand’s total generating capacity from all sources of generation.

China was the world’s largest market in 2009, nearly doubling its wind generation capacity from 12.1 GW in 2008 to 25.1 GW at the end of 2009 with new capacity additions of 13 GW.

Newly added capacity of 1,270 MW in India and some smaller additions in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan make Asia the biggest regional market for wind energy in 2009, with more than 14 GW of new capacity.

Against all expectations, the US wind energy market installed nearly 10 GW in 2009, increasing the country’s installed capacity by 39% and bringing the total installed, grid-connected capacity to 35 GW. In early 2009, some analysts had foreseen a drop in wind power development of as much as 50%, but the implementation of the US Recovery Act with its strong focus on wind energy development in the summer reversed this trend.

Europe, which has traditionally been the world’s largest market for wind energy development, continued to see strong growth, also exceeding expectations. In 2009, 10.5 GW were installed in Europe, led by Spain (2.5 GW) and Germany (1.9 GW). Italy, France and the UK all added more than 1 GW of new wind capacity each.

"Wind energy is already making a significant contribution to saving CO2 emissions. The 158 GW of global wind capacity in place at the end of 2009 will produce 340 TWh of clean electricity and save

204 million tons of CO2 every year," said Mr Sawyer. "As we see in Europe and the US, wind power is now often the most attractive option for new power generation, both in economic and environmental terms, and for improved supply security."

The New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA) is an industry association that works towards the development of wind as a reliable, sustainable, clean and commercially viable energy source. We aim to fairly represent wind energy to the public, government and the energy sector. Our members include about 80 companies involved in New Zealand’s wind energy sector, including electricity generators, wind farm developers, lines companies, turbine manufacturers, consulting firms, researchers and law firms.