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Wind generation in New Zealand

In 2016, wind comprised 5.4% of total generation and provided enough electricity to power the whole of New Zealand for 20 days.

Visit www.em6live.co.nz to find out how much electricity is being generated by wind farms right now.

Quarterly wind generation

Quarter ending Generation
(megawatt hours)
% of total
generation
September 2017 542,000 4.7
June 2017 539,000 4.9
March 2017 590,000 5.8
December 2016 623,000 6.1
September 2016 588,000 5.0
June 2016 579,000 5.4
March 2016 523,000 5.1
December 2015 673,000 6.4
September 2015 586,000 5.1
June 2015 620,000 5.8
March 2015 460,000 4.5
December 2014 656,000 6.2
September 2014 542,000 4.8
June 2014 491,000 4.7
March 2014 501,000 6.3
December 2013 519,000 5.0
September 2013 586,000 5.3
June 2013 455,587 4.7
March 2013 435,752 4.3
December 2012 589,440 6.4
September 2012 454,064 4.5
June 2012 497,784 5.1
March 2012 491,000 4.9
December 2011 472,000 4.6
September 2011 544,000 4.7
June 2011 483,000 4.4
March 2011 431,000 4.2
December 2010 413,000 3.9
September 2010 387,000 3.3
June 2010 407,000 3.8
March 2010 413,000 4.1
December 2009 511,000 4.9
September 2009 377,000 3.4
June 2009 274,000 2.5
March 2009 294,000 3.1
December 2008 304,000 3.0
September 2008 264,000 2.3
June 2008 221,000 2.0
March 2008 258,000 2.6

(Source: New Zealand Energy Quarterly, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)

Generation capacity

The combined capacity – or the rated output – of wind farms in New Zealand is 690 megawatts. What this means is that at any given moment, if all wind farms were operating at full capacity they could produce 690 megawatts of electricity.

Wind turbines in New Zealand operate about 90% of the time, but the amount of electricity they generate is dependent on wind conditions. This is why wind generation is often referred to as “variable generation”.

Wind farms, while variable in respect of short term production, are reasonably consistent on a quarterly and annual basis.  In addition the physical dispersion of wind farms enables a base load production characteristic as generally the wind is blowing somewhere in New Zealand at any given time.

On an annual basis, New Zealand wind farms generate at an average of around 40% of their rated output - this figure is also referred as “capacity factor” and is among the highest in the world.

Capacity factor is defined as the amount of electricity actually generated relative to the amount that would have been produced if the generator had been running at its full output over the same period. Capacity factor is a measure of productivity and is not a measure of efficiency, nor a measure of the time spent operating.

No form of generation produces electricity at its full output, 100% of the time, so a capacity factor of less than 100% does not mean a form of generation is unreliable. Hydro generation has an annual average capacity factor of around 50%, gas 65%, geothermal 80%. Generators are often offline because of maintenance, unexpected faults, fluctuations in demand or constrained fuel supply.

New Zealand's total operational generating capacity

Fuel Type
Operational capacity
(MW)

Wind
690
Hydro
5,363
Geothermal
978
Biogas 37
Diesel 155
Coal / Gas 500
Gas 1,151
Total
8,875


Source to Energy in NZ
, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment