New Zealand's wind resource is one of the best in the world but it is only beginning to be developed.
As at July 2010, wind made up more than 490MW, and contributed almost 5% of New Zealand's total electricity supply in the final quarter of 2009.
However, there is potential for wind to generate a much more significant amount of our electricity than it does at present.
Advantages of wind energy
Wind energy is one of the fastest forms of electricity generation to build and bring online. It also has one of the lowest overall environmental impacts - using wind to generate electricity does not produce greenhouse emissions.
Wind blows intermittently, but this does not mean it is unreliable. A wind resource in a particular region can be expected to produce a predictable amount of electricity from year to year. As we have learnt more about wind energy and technologies, our ability to forecast and predict generation output is improving.
Due to the intermittent nature of wind, it has to be part of a diverse electricity generation mix so that other resources can be used when the wind is not blowing. New Zealand's existing hydro dams provide an excellent renewable source of backup power, which can be quickly activated. For this reason, wind and hydro are a very good mix, and could allow New Zealand to integrate much more wind generation capacity into our system.
Wind energy projects create jobs and other benefits. Read case studies produced by the New Zealand Wind Energy Association about the economic benefits of wind energy developments.
Electricity generated by wind is widely approved of by many New Zealanders. Consumer research conducted by AC Nielsen in 2008 showed that 86% of those surveyed were supportive of wind farms in New Zealand.
Research also showed that wind power and hydro have the highest approval rating of any electricity generation method to meet New Zealand's future electricity needs.
Small-scale wind energy
While large-scale wind energy developments are becoming common, small-scale wind energy is also playing an increasing role in New Zealand.
Domestic-scale micro wind turbines are becoming common on stand-alone power systems and in some grid-connected systems.
There is also potential for ‘community-scale' wind energy developments. Projects of this scale may use fewer turbines, or smaller turbines, than large-scale wind farms, and are a form of distributed generation. For example, New Zealand's own Windflow Technology Ltd manufactures 500kW wind turbines, and developers sometimes utilise smaller, second-hand wind turbines for smaller-scale projects.
EECA's role in supporting wind energy
EECA works to remove barriers to, and encourage the uptake of, all renewable energy technologies. This includes providing independent and impartial information, and in some situations supporting projects through the Resource Management Act consenting process. Find out more about EECA's role in promoting renewable energy.
EECA provides resources for local government to help develop renewable energy in New Zealand, including assessments of regional renewable energy potential.
EECA also raises awareness of the benefits and costs of distributed generation, and provide financial assistance to assist with the completion of feasibility studies for potential distributed generation projects.
Wind farm noise and health effects
Wind farm noise Standard
A revised New Zealand Standard on wind farm noise was released in March 2010. The new Standard provides wind farm developers, local authority decision makers and communities with clear, workable methods for predicting, measuring, and assessing sound from wind farms.
A summary of the revised Standard NZS 6808:2010 is available from NZWEA.
Further information about NZS6808:2010, including its recommended limits, is available from www.standards.co.nz (enter keyword ‘6808’).
Australian National Health and Medical Research Council review on health and wind turbines
A review of current literature by the ANHMRC undertaken in July 2010 finds there is no evidence to show a link between health effects and wind turbines.
- New Zealand Wind Energy Association
- British Wind Energy Association
- European Wind Energy Association