NZWEA believes wind power will account for at least 20% of our electricity by 2030, up from 5% of generation in 2013.
How will the country achieve this?
There is a bipartisan government target of having 90% of New Zealand’s energy generated from renewable sources by 2025. To get there, the country would need to retire some of our old, less-efficient, fossil fuel plant and build more wind farms, commission more geothermal power stations, and erect more solar panels. We need to take advantage of the leaps in technology that make renewable energy more cost-effective than running gas-fired generation.
This might sound like a big task, but to get to 90% renewable by 2025, New Zealand just needs policy that works within the market to support the construction of another 1% of renewable generation every year.
From there, our dream is that gas-fired generation will only be needed to ‘balance’ out electricity demand at peak times and in emergencies. Hydro power is renowned world-wide for working well with wind-derived generation and there is wind resource whistling through this country for the taking.
An assessment of New Zealand’s wind resource shows that New Zealand’s wind has the potential to be used to generate over three times New Zealand’s current annual electricity demand (42,863 GW/h in the year to December 2012).
It is highly unlikely that wind’s potential will be realised to this extent for a number of reasons, including the advantage of having a variety of forms of generation to draw upon to meet demand. Diversity in generation enables a system to respond and maintain supply even when there is a serious problem with one form of generation (for example, low hydro lake inflows, an unexpected fault with a thermal station or calm wind conditions).
A more likely scenario is that by 2030, New Zealand will have 2,500 – 3,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity, supplying 20% of our electricity. In this scenario there would be clusters of wind farms in areas with good wind conditions, such as the Waikato, Manawatu, the Wellington region, Central Otago and Southland. There would also be smaller community developments and individual commercial turbines on farms and industrial sites.