Meridian Energy’s White Hill wind farm was the first wind farm to be built in the South Island. It is six kilometres south-east of Mossburn in Southland.
The wind farm has 29 two-megawatt V80 Vestas turbines.
The turbines have a combined capacity of 58 megawatts, and generate enough electricity annually for 30,000 homes.
The wind farm site is about eight kilometres by three kilometres. The wind at the White Hill site has very good speed and consistency for wind farming, by both national and international standards.
To develop the wind farm, Meridian widened 14 kilometres of existing tracks and constructed 10 kilometres of new access tracks for the 400-tonne crawler crane that installed the turbines.
Care was taken of the local ecology during construction of White Hill: significant areas were fenced off and topsoil and red tussock were saved for replanting later.
White Hill wind farm was officially opened, and started generating electricity, in June 2007.
The turbines are 107 metres tall – including the blades. The tubular steel tower and nacelle stand 67 metres high.
The blades have an 80-metre diameter sweep. They are made from glass fibre reinforced epoxy. The blades turn in a clockwise direction at between 9 revolutions per minute (rpm) and 19 rpm.
The turbines operate at wind speeds of between 14.4 kilometres per hour (kph) and 90kph When the wind speed reaches 54kph the turbines reach their full generating capacity of 2 megawatts. Between 54kph and 90kph the turbines generate a constant amount of electricity. When the wind speed exceeds 90kph the turbines automatically turns off to prevent damage.
Meridian was granted tradeable greenhouse gas emissions units (carbon credits) as part of the Ministry for the Environment’s Projects to Reduce Emissions Scheme (PRE) in 2003/2004.
Wind farms are no longer eligible for carbon credits, although some developers have yet to collect the credits they were granted under the PRE. The last round of the PRE was in 2004. Wind farms do not receive a free allocation of carbon credits under the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Wind farms are built today only if they can generate electricity at a cost that is competitive with other forms of generation.
You can visit an information kiosk and viewing platform just off the Mossburn-Wreys Bush Road near the Mossburn Cemetery. From the kiosk there are great views across to the wind farm.
Operator: Meridian Energy
Year installed: 2007
Number of turbines: 29
Turbine capacity: 2 megawatts
Wind farm installed capacity: 58 megawatts
Blade length: 39 metres
Tower height: 67 metres
Meridian Energy website