Wind energy plant gets go-ahead in New Zealand

New Zealand have approved a wind farm that could provide enough electricity for 170,000 homes. The wind farm, to be named Hauauru ma raki (Maori for "north west wind") will comprise 168 wind turbines along 34 km of land along the upper northwest coast of the North Island.

The wind power project, proposed by Contact Energy, New Zealand’s biggest listed energy company, and Wind Farm Group, is expected to generate 540 megawatts of electricity. The company’s original proposal included the construction, operation and maintenance of a 220-kV transmission line, three substations, associated support structures, equipment and facilities.

New Zealand’s environment minister appointed a board of inquiry to consider the proposal and objections to it in 2008. Secretary for the Environment Dr Paul Reynolds said the wind turbines at the Hauauru ma raki wind farm farm could not exceed 150 meters in height, with a maximum of three blades, each up to 50 meters long. Noise restrictions were also placed on the wind turbines.

However, the wind energy project was not expected to be started soon as then Contact managing director David Baldwin indicated in February that the company would first concentrate on more cost-efficient geothermal operations.

Contact Energy says of the wind power project on its company website: "New Zealand’s demand for energy is growing strongly at about two percent per annum. The country needs large amounts of new electricity generation and, with concern growing about the effects of climate change, that electricity increasingly needs to come from renewable sources."