Decision to build new wind farm in Ohariu Valley welcomed by wind energy industry

New Zealand’s wind energy industry welcomes Meridian Energy’s announcement that it will build the Mill Creek wind farm in the Ohariu Valley just outside Wellington.

The industry is powering ahead as the world celebrates Global Wind Day, says Eric Pyle, the chief executive of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association.

“We are also celebrating the official opening of New Zealand’s newest wind farm, the 7.65 MW Mt Stuart wind farm in the Clutha District,” says Mr Pyle.

The difference in the size of these projects reinforces that wind energy is a cost effective form of new generation and an attractive investment option. “From the point of view of an investor, the major advantages of wind farms are that they can be built quickly and sized to fit both the developer’s strategy and market requirements,” says Mr Pyle. “This means we get the right amount of generation, in the right place at the right time.”

Construction of Mill Creek will see NZ’s wind power industry continue along its growth path. Wind energy has grown over 25 per cent per year over the last few years, and now provides about 5% of New Zealand’s electricity. Wind is likely to be supplying 20% of New Zealand’s electricity by 2030.

“Growth in wind generation will create new business and employment opportunities,’” says Mr Pyle. “A cluster of businesses have developed skills and expertise in wind energy as the Manawatu wind farms expanded, and some of these businesses now export services and skills overseas. Mill Creek will further increase the opportunities in the industry.

“Last year over US$280 billion was invested in clean energy globally, and $84 billion of that was in wind. There is huge potential for New Zealand businesses that develop niche skills and products from their experience with our tremendous wind resource.”

Statement from NZ Government
The $169 million Mill Creek project in the Ohariu Valley will be a 26-turbine, 60-megawatt wind farm which will generate enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of 30,000 average New Zealand homes a year.

Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley has welcomed the announcement by Meridian Energy that construction on the Mill Creek wind farm north of Wellington will start soon.

“New Zealand’s wind resources are among the best in the world, and the role of wind energy for electricity generation is steadily increasing,” Mr Heatley said.

“Unlike many countries, New Zealand’s wind energy does not require subsidies. It is one of the cheapest sources of generation for New Zealand to develop.

“The Government is focused on renewables, the exploration of our natural resources, energy efficiency and the pricing of carbon as we manage our environmental responsibilities and economic opportunities,” he said.

“Renewables already play a significant role in our energy mix with 77 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity coming from renewable sources last year. The Government has a target of 90 per cent by 2025.

“Wind power already generates nearly 5 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity. That figure is set to increase with the decision to build the Mill Creek wind farm, and also that about 2400 megawatts of other wind turbines projects are already consented,” the Minister said.

Wind power 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 %)