Politics take puff out of wind farm building in New Zealand  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

The NZ Herald reports that after a good track record of building wind power and geothermal power plants over the past decade, construction of wind farms in NZ has ground to a halt - Politics take puff out of wind farm building. The report blames political uncertainty in spite of high court decisions in favour of wind farm developments.

The decade-long surge in big wind farm building in New Zealand is nearing an end with no new projects in the pipeline as the sector booms around the world. Industry leaders here are worried political uncertainty in the electricity market will stall further long-term development.

Wind farms account for more than 4 per cent of installed generation in New Zealand and the completion of the last big project, Meridian Energy's Mill Creek scheme near Wellington scheduled for next year, will boost this close to 5 per cent.

The partly privatised company accounts for about 61 per cent of the country's wind farms. Its chief financial officer Paul Chambers said although the economics of wind power were improving, there were no plans for more projects.

Flat electricity demand, due to reduced consumption by big industrial users and households, meant new generation wasn't needed in the near future but planning for renewable energy projects was hard hit by political and regulatory uncertainty.

Energy Matters has an update on Meridian's wind farms in Victoria - Mt. Mercer Wind Farm Starts Cranking Power.

On Tuesday, the first electricity was generated at the Mt Mercer Wind Farm near Ballarat in Victoria. The 64-turbine wind farm is being constructed by New Zealand's Meridian Energy. Mt Mercer will have a capacity of 131 MW, bringing the company's total operating portfolio in Australia to 201 MW. Mt Mercer, which will generate enough electricity for 74,000 average Australian homes (and enough to power the entire city of Ballarat), is the third wind farm project that Meridian has been involved with in Australia.

Meridian also owns and operates the 70MW Mt Millar wind farm; located approximately 100km south-west of Whyalla on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. The company was also involved with the 420 MW Macarthur Wind Farm in Western Victoria; but sold its stake earlier this year.

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