Wind Farms Caught in a Catch-22
Mar 1, 2007 Energy Central
The Press, Christchurch, New Zealand: Wind-farm
proposals will not be able to provide much-needed
power to the rest of New Zealand unless Central
Otago has new transmission lines, Transpower says.
But the national grid operator cannot justify the
multi-million- dollar lines until power companies
invest in wind farms, and the companies will not
pay for new generation capacity if there is no means
of storing and transferring it.
With several generation proposals being worked
on, a new line was essential so the country could
benefit, Transpower general manager of grid investment
Tim George said.
The additional capacity from proposals such as
a 120-megawatt increase from the Manapouri hydro
station, 630MW from Meridian Energy's $2 billion
Project Hayes in Central Otago and up to 200MW from
TrustPower's proposed 100-turbine wind farm at Lake
Mahinerangi, near Dunedin, exceeded the requirements
of Otago and Southland, he said.
Several other projects are believed to be in the
pipeline, including one from Contact Energy, which
declined to give the location of the four potential
wind-farm sites it is investigating.
"If you don't get a new line, it will mean water
will spill and you won't get all the new generation
out of that area," George said.
Contact Energy raised its concerns at an energy
conference in Auckland this week, saying it was
common for its Roxburgh dam not to be able to supply
electricity because of overloaded transmission systems.
It was concerned that new wind farms would congest
the transmission lines and displace hydro- generated
electricity as wind- generated power had priority
access to the lines.
George said the first stage of Project Hayes would
not require new lines.
"Beyond that, we'll have to start looking at a
new transmission line, obviously at quite a high
cost and high impact to landowners," he said. It
would probably take seven years for a new line to
TrustPower spokesman Graeme Purches said the company
would not build generation capacity unless it had
the lines to store it.