Wind turbines in New Zealand: Wairarapa wind farm approved

Genesis Energy has been given approval for a massive wind farm in the Wairarapa, although the scale of the wind energy project has been pared back.

On Monday night the commissioners which heard appeals against the proposed 860 megawatt Castle Hill wind farm released a detailed final decision, having earlier said they were likely to approve the project in some form.

The decision gives Genesis approval to build 267 wind turbines of up to 135 metres high, with more than 50 of the wind turbines required to be no taller than 115m high.

The proposed site is located 20km east of Eketahuna and Pahiatua, 20km north-east of Masterton and 15km west of the Wairarapa coast north of Castlepoint. It is set across around 30,000 hectares of hills used mainly to graze sheep and cattle

Genesis applied to build 286 wind turbines of 135m high, or 242 wind turbines of 155m high, which it said would make Castle Hill the largest wind farm in Australasia, capable of generating enough electricity to cover the needs of up to 370,000 average New Zealand households.

It is not known exactly how much electricity the wind farm could produce under the modified plan.

Richard Gordon, a spokesman for Genesis, confirmed that the company had been notified of the decision, but would be taking time to closely examine the decision before commenting on its details.

While the company welcomed the decision, the Mr Gordon said there was no certainty when or whether the wind farm will be built.

”Whatever happens there’s not likely to be urgency in terms of construction,” Mr Gordon said.

”There’s still got to be an economic commercial case for building it, and our view now is that the market is saturated with generation capacity and there’s no particular need to build new capacity of any type right now.”

Wind energy in New Zealand

1997: 4 MW
1998: 24 MW (+500 %)
1999: 35 MW (+45.9 %)
2000: 35 MW (- %)
2001: 35 MW (- %)
2002: 35 MW (- %)
2003: 36 MW (+2.9 %)
2004: 168 MW (+366.7 %)
2005: 168 MW (- %)
2006: 171 MW (+1.8 %)
2007: 322 MW (+88.4 %)
2008: 325 MW (+1 %)
2009: 497 MW (+53 %)
2010: 530 MW (+6.7 %)
2011: 622 MW (+17.4 %)