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Wind power in New Zealand

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Wind power in New Zealand

This demonstration wind turbine in Brooklyn, Wellington, is New Zealand's oldest wind turbine still in operation. It was installed in 1993.

Wind power in New Zealand generates a small but rapidly growing proportion of the country's electricity. Having only become an established generation source in the late 1990s, as of 2012, wind power accounts for 622 MW of installed capacity and nearly 5 percent of electricity generated in the country.

New Zealand is in the path of the capacity factor in this area.

Generation capacity and expansion

As of January 2012, New Zealand had an installed wind generation capacity of 622 MW.[1] In the 2011 calendar year, wind power produced 1,930 GWh of electricity, 4.5 percent of the country's electricity generation that year.[2]

Around 3000 MW of wind farms and turbines have received resource consent or are seeking it.[3][4]

The New Zealand Wind Energy Association predicts that wind could reach 20 percent of New Zealand's annual generation by 2030 [5]

Wind resources

New Zealand has outstanding wind resources, due to its position astride the Roaring Forties, resulting in nearly continuous strong westerly winds over many locations, unimpeded by other nearby landmasses at similar latitude.[6] One study found that using 1% of total available land for wind farms would produce approximately 100,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year.[7] This is roughly two times the annual electricity consumption of New Zealand. Nearly continuous, however, does not mean continuous: a high-pressure weather system, for instance, can cover the entire country with the result of no significant winds anywhere.

The strength and consistency of New Zealand winds means the nationwide capacity factor is high compared to other countries, averaging between 30 and 35 percent, with some individual turbines recording capacity factors above 50 percent. However, the excellent wind resource doesn't come without consequences - the strength and consistency of winds at the West Wind Wind Farm have caused several turbines there to suffer premature bearing failures.[8]


Wind farms and turbines generate a wide range of opinions from outright opposition to widespread acceptance. Opposition is due to noise, aesthetics and ecological factors. A Palmerston North landscape designer launched a petition in 2008 calling for a moratorium on wind farm developments until stricter national policies are in place, including minimum distances from housing, maximum saturation levels, and protection for iconic areas.[9]

Wind farms

Wind power in New Zealand is located in New Zealand
Under construction
Under construction
Hau Nui Wind Farm
Hau Nui Wind Farm
Horseshoe Bend Wind Farm
Horseshoe Bend Wind Farm
Lulworth Wind Farm
Lulworth Wind Farm
Mahinerangi Wind Farm
Mahinerangi Wind Farm
Tararua Wind Farm
Tararua Wind Farm
Te Apiti Wind Farm
Te Apiti Wind Farm
Te Rere Hau Wind Farm
Te Rere Hau Wind Farm
Te Uku Wind Farm
Te Uku Wind Farm
Weld Cone Wind Farm
Weld Cone Wind Farm
West Wind Wind Farm
West Wind Wind Farm
White Hill Wind Farm
White Hill Wind Farm
Mt Stuart Wind Farm
Mt Stuart Wind Farm
Wind farms in New Zealand. (Farms on Chatham Island and Ross Island are not shown.)

Summary of wind power generation for 2007

Electricity generation via wind turbines is uncontrolled, in that the wind blows or not irrespective of the timing of the demand for electricity. Measurements of the generation over half-hourly intervals are supplied to the Electricity Commission. There are isolated wind turbines at Brooklyn and Gebbie's Pass. At the Te Rere Hau wind farm there are five 500KW wind turbines, however the transmission line to the rest of the electricity grid is limited to one megawatt.

In the charts below, the horizontal layering shows the effect of a single turbine (or a small number of turbines) running at their maximum output:

Te Rere Hau
Te Rere Hau

For Te Rere Hau, however, the graph suggests that this maximum setting is about 200KW, not the nominated 500KW.

Hau Nui
Hau Nui wind farm

The Hau Nui wind farm has an intermediate capacity.

Tararua wind farms

While south of the Manawatu Gorge the Tararua wind farms operate almost in synchrony. Construction of the Tararua III wind farm began in early 2007.

TeApiti wind farms

North of the Manawatu Gorge is the TeApiti wind farms, while in Southland the White Hill wind farm began operation.

Clyde and NewPlymouth generation

By contrast, the Clyde hydro power station (for example) has its generation timed to suit demand, likewise the New Plymouth thermal power station - which was deactivated in October 2007, until the resulting power shortages in 2008 encouraged its partial reactivation.

Combined NZ wind farm generation

Combining all the wind generation shows that the total production was uneven over the year due to variations in capacity.

Availability over a year

An important consideration for the organisation of an electric power generation system is the availability of power from its various components. Hydro power stations with a reasonably large lake can be started and stopped at will, while thermal power stations are controllable also. Wind turbines of course generate only at the whim of the wind, so the question becomes "How often does the wind blow at useful rates?" From the viewpoint of the electricity system, this becomes "How often does the generator deliver various levels of power?"

This can be assessed via consideration of the "duration" curve, of power vs. the proportion of time at (or below) that power, derived from the observed generation data for some interval (such as a year). Specifically, given measurements at regular intervals (half-hourly is usual in NZ), as were used to produce the plots of generation, sort a year's 17520 values into the order lowest power to highest. A plot of the power as the y-variable and the index of the value's position as the x-variable produces curves such as follow graphs illustrate. For wind power, there is no controllability, except in design choices as to wind speeds for start and stop, so the power output is closely connected to the wind speed.

Disappointing returns

Te Rere Hau

For Te Rere Hau for example, the top tenth of the time for generation involves a power drop of two tenths. Half the time, the generation is less than 25% of full capacity. For about forty percent of the time the generation is less than ten percent of nominal capacity,and it is zero for about a quarter of the time. The timing of the pattern of demand for electricity has low correlation with the wind; this means that wind power is no more available at a time of high demand than it would be otherwise.

Hau Nui

A wind farm with many turbines and unconstrained by transmission line capacities does better: here is the output curve for the Hau Nui wind farm



And the Tararua wind farms, distorted by the increase of capacity for Tararua III during 2007.


Te Apiti

And Te Apiti (north of the Tararua wind farm) along with White Hill in Southland which commenced operation in 2007.


All wind combined

And for all wind combined, distorted by the changes in active capacity during 2007:


The combined curve is not the summation of the individual duration curves; rather, for each time the values for the wind-powered generation at that time were added, and the sort performed on the sum. Despite the geographical spread, it is clear that at any given time, there is a high chance that the contribution from wind generation will not be a large proportion of the installed capacity. For instance, half the time, it will be no more than a third, and only a quarter of the time will it be above two thirds.

Correlation between different locations

Scatter plots where a point is placed for each measurement of the year according to station A's generation at that time for the x co-ordinate and station B's generation for the y co-ordinate show the correlation between different wind locations. A fair comparison includes those stations that have not changed in capacity during the year, so this means that White Hill and Tararua III that were under construction in 2007 must be excluded. A later time span could be used when they are no longer under construction. The electricity commission has chosen to no longer release data for wind generation (and many other smaller generation stations).

Image 1

This plot show that the correlation between Te Apiti and the Tararua I and II wind farms is very high. When one is generating at high levels, the other is also likely to be at high capacity. Conversely, if the output of one is low, the other is likely to be low as well. The two operate almost as one. Further, when the wind is strong north of the gorge it is also strong south of the gorge, and vice-versa.

Image 2

The lone wind turbine at Brooklyn above Wellington is rather further away, and unlike Hau Nui, the Rimutaka mountain range intervenes between it and Te Apiti. Image 2 shows a much smaller correlation. Primarily because when wind is low at one location it is more likely to be low at the other as well. The horizontal layering is a consequence of the data supplied being given only to a 2KW step and the full scale value is just 230KW.

Image 3

Much further away is the lone wind turbine at Gebbie's Pass by Christchurch, which shows no correlation (image 3). (However, times when there was no generation at both locations would not be well-depicted in this display.)


By contrast, the Clyde hydro power station has controllable generation. It has four turbines and the steps in the duration curve show that one, two, three or four turbines (but not which individual turbines) were operating at their nominal output for various portions of the year. Thus, the Clyde power station was not generating at all for about a twentieth of the year (zero power up to about 0.05 of a year) and ran one turbine only for about a tenth of a year, the flat between 0.1 and 0.2. A hydro turbine is at its most efficient only near its design capacity and the flow of water is controlled accordingly. However, the power output can be varied a little (and the water pressure varies with lake level), nor need the operational level be changed only on half-hour boundaries, so the "flats" of the staircase are not completely flat nor the risers vertical. For new Plymouth, for two thirds of the year's half-hours it was not running at all.


A hydro power station does not operate at a hundred percent all the time, but this is not the same thing. Clyde runs at about 60% of its capacity, but this is because a hydro power station typically has more generation capacity installed than could be used by the annual average flow of its river. Given that a hydro power station is being built, an extra generator is not much further expense. The difference is that the excess generation can be started or stopped as the demand for electricity varies, with the water reservoir either falling or rising correspondingly, but averaged over a long period the flow through the generators matches the river's actual flow since otherwise the lake will overflow or be drained. With wind turbines there is no storage of wind for other times of greater need. Thus a hydro power station has good availability (for any given half-hour) while a wind power station does not, even if both offer about the same ratio of average power to maximum power over a year.


Only wind turbines and farms over 0.5 MW generating capacity are listed.

Name Commissioned Operator Number of turbines Installed capacity
Annual average
generation (GWh) [10]
Hau Nui 1997 Genesis Energy 15 8.65 22
Horseshoe Bend[11] 2009 Pioneer Generation 3 2.25
Lulworth January 2011 Energy³ 4 1
Mahinerangi March 2011 TrustPower 12 36 105
Mt Stuart[12] December 2011 Pioneer Generation 9 7.65
Tararua 1999-2007 TrustPower 134 161 650
Te Apiti 2004 Meridian Energy 55 91 258
Te Rere Hau 2006-11 NZ Windfarms 97 48.5
Te Uku 2011 WEL Networks / Meridian Energy 28 64.4
Weld Cone[13][14] 2010 Energy3 3 0.75
Project West Wind 2009 Meridian Energy 62 142.6 550
White Hill 2007 Meridian Energy 29 58 200

Meridian Energy also operates a 1 MW wind farm on Ross Island, Antarctica. It is not included in the above list as it doesn't contribute electricity to the New Zealand national electricity network.[15][16]

Under construction

Name Operator Projected Capacity (MW)
Planned commissioning date
Mill Creek Meridian Energy 59.8 mid-2014[17]


Name Operator Projected Capacity (MW)
Planned commissioning date
Awakino[18] Ventus 41.6
Awhitu TrustPower 15 under development
Castle Hill Wind Farm[19] Genesis 429 to 858 consented
Chatham Island[20] CBD Energy 0.4
Hauauru ma raki Contact Energy 540 Contact to exit this project[21]
Hawke's Bay Hawkes Bay Wind Farm Ltd 225
Kaiwera Downs TrustPower 240
Long Gully Mighty River Power 12.5 Consent granted in October 2009
Lulworth[22] Energy 3 1
Mahinerangi (stage 2 onwards) TrustPower 164
Mount Cass MainPower 69 consents declined, under appeal
Project Central Wind[23] Meridian Energy 130
Project Gumfields[24] Meridian Energy 99
Project Hurunui, Greta Valley, North Canterbury[25] Meridian Energy 76 consents notified April 2011
Puketiro RES NZ 150
Rototuna[26] Meridian Energy 500
Slopedown[27] Wind Prospect CWP (NZ) Ltd 150
Taharoa[28] Taharoa C 100
Taumatatotora[29] Ventus Energy 44
Titiokura Unison Networks and Roaring 40s 45
Turitea Mighty River Power 360 Construction unlikely until 2015.[30]
Waitahora Contact Energy 177 not proceeding in foreseeable future[21]
Waverley[31][32] Allco Wind Energy 135


Name Operator Projected Capacity (MW) Comments Coordinates
Project Hayes Meridian Energy 630 Abandoned in January 2012
Maungatua Wind Farm[33][34] Windpower Maungatua 25 project abandoned[35]
Motorimu Wind Farm[36] Motorimu Wind Farm Limited 108 scrapped, consents surrendered[37]
Te Waka Unison Networks and Roaring 40s 102

Individual wind turbines

The Windflow 500 is New Zealand's only locally designed and manufactured wind turbine.

Individual demonstration and prototype wind turbines have been installed at Southbridge in Canterbury,[38] Gebbies Pass near Christchurch and at Brooklyn in Wellington.

Many small windmills serve as windpumps on New Zealand farms.

Coping with intermittency

Wind farms partner nicely with hydro plants on the same grid to create combined power plants, because hydro plants can be uprated with extra turbine units to provide highly dispatchable peak generating capacity above the average flows of their rivers, at lower cost than other peak power options.[39] During periods of high wind and low electricity demand, a hydro plant can reduce its output to accumulate water in its reservoir, whilst wind power handles a higher share of the grid load. Then during periods of low wind, the hydro plant can raise its output temporarily, drawing down its reservoir a bit. Given New Zealand's large proportion of hydroelectric generating capacity, it is better-positioned than most nations to uprate its generating stations and grid to handle intermittent power sources such as wind and solar. The available virtual energy storage represented by hydro plants can be one of the main factors limiting the maximum amount of wind and solar power that a grid can accommodate. Further increases in intermittent power source development may require construction of pumped-storage hydroelectricity and implementation of energy demand management techniques.

Other nations also plan to generate more of their electricity from renewable sources, and are researching solutions for the intermittency problem. The Institute for Solar Energy Supply Technology of the University of Kassel pilot-tested a combined power plant linking solar, wind, biogas and hydrostorage to provide load-following power around the clock, entirely from renewable sources.[40] According to a 2007 Stanford University study published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, interconnecting ten or more wind farms allows 33 to 47% of the total energy produced to be used as reliable, baseload electric power, as long as minimum criteria are met for wind speed and turbine height.[41][42]

See also


  1. ^ "Wind generation in New Zealand". New Zealand Wind Energy Association. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  2. ^ "New Zealand Energy Quarterly - December 2011". New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development. 20 March 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  3. ^ "Generation update". Electricity Authority (New Zealand). September 2011. Retrieved 3 June 2012. 
  4. ^ "Proposed wind farms". New Zealand Wind Energy Association. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  5. ^ "More wind powered generation in New Zealand, producing 20% of our electricity". New Zealand Wind Energy Association. 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "New Zealand wind resource". New Zealand Wind Energy Association. 10 January 2008. Archived from the original on 10 January 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2008. 
  7. ^ "New Zealand's Wind Resource". New Zealand Wind Energy Association. Retrieved 2008-03-08. 
  8. ^ Bradley, Grant (8 June 2011). "Wellington winds too windy for wind farm". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 June 2012. 
  9. ^ Matthews, Lee (2 February 2009). 4834272a6502.html "Petition calls for turbine advice". Manawatu Standard. Retrieved 16 February 2009. 
  10. ^ "List of Generating Stations". New Zealand Electricity Authority. November 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2011. 
  11. ^ "Horseshoe Bend wind farm". New Zealand Wind Energy Association. Retrieved 3 April 2011. 
  12. ^ "Proposed Mt Stuart Windfarm Information". Clutha District Council. Retrieved 6 February 2009. 
  13. ^ [1], NZ Wind Energy Association.
  14. ^ "Farmersplan to put wind to good use". Marlborough Express. 15 January 2009. 
  15. ^ "Ross Island wind farm". New Zealand Wind Energy Association. Retrieved 15 February 2009. 
  16. ^ "McCully opens Antarctic wind farm". New Zealand Herald. 16 January 2010. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  17. ^ Rutherford, Hamish (15 June 2012). "North Wellington Wind Farm To Be Built". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  18. ^ "Submission on the Awakino Wind Farm Development". Ministry of Economic Development. April 2005. 
  19. ^ Chug, Kiran (2 April 2011). "Planned wind farm would be biggest". Stuff (Fairfax). Retrieved 2 April 2011. 
  20. ^ "Wind farm for Chathams". The Press. 17 December 2008. 
  21. ^ a b "Diverse asset and fuel position and a focus on efficiency lift results" (Press release). Contact Energy. 20 August 2013. 
  22. ^ "Lulworth wind farm". New Zealand Wind Energy Association. 
  23. ^ "Project Central Wind". Meridian Energy Ltd. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  24. ^ "Windfarm investigation blows on". Northern News. 9 October 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  25. ^ "Meridian Energy Project Hurunui Wind CRC111342 CRC111343 CRC111354 CRC111344". Public Notices. Environment Canterbury. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  26. ^ Mike Barrington (2008-12-30). "Giant wind farm plan". Northern Advocate. Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  27. ^ "Facts & figures". Slopedown Wind Farm. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  28. ^ NZPA (2 February 2006). "Three wind farms planned for Waikato". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  29. ^ "Taumatatotora-NZ Wind Farm". Ventus Energy. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  30. ^ Rankin, Janine (8 October 2011). "Wind farm on hold". Manawatu Standard. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  31. ^ $300 million wind farm for Waverley, Wanganui Chronicle, 28 April 2007.
  32. ^ "Wind farm hearing put off indefinitely by applicant". Waverley Way. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  33. ^ "Mt Maungatua wind-farm proposal grows 25%". Otago Daily Times. 15 July 2008. 
  34. ^ 6 month report to 31 December 2008, NZ Windfarms Limited, 2 March 2009. Quote: "the WindPower Maungatua wind farm ... is now unlikely to proceed in the near future, if at all".
  35. ^ "Wind farm development abandoned". Otago Daily Times. 29 August 2009. 
  36. ^ "Notice of Decision". Joint Hearings Commissioners. Retrieved 14 February 2009. 
  37. ^ Miller, Grant (25 August 2009). "Wind farm idea off table as liquidators surrender consent". The Manawatu Standard. 
  38. ^ New Zealand Wind Energy Association - Southbridge Wind Turbine
  39. ^ "Hydroelectric Power".  
  40. ^ "The Combined Power Plant: the first stage in providing 100% power from renewable energy". SolarServer. January 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2008. 
  41. ^ "The power of multiples: Connecting wind farms can make a more reliable and cheaper power source". 21 November 2007. 
  42. ^ Archer, C. L.; Jacobson, M. Z. (2007). "Supplying Baseload Power and Reducing Transmission Requirements by Interconnecting Wind Farms". Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology ( 

Further reading

  • Energy Link and MWH NZ (May 2005). Wind Energy Integration in New Zealand. New Zealand. Retrieved 2008-09-14. 

External links

  • New Zealand Wind Energy Association
  • "Carbon neutral wind energy can close off nuclear option". New Zealand Wind Energy Association. 2007-09-13. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
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