We’ll surpass government forecast says wind energy association

A mild protest from the NZ Wind Energy Association arrived in my inbox recently. It was in response to the Ministry of Economic Development’s latest Energy Outlook forecast, published last week. The Energy Outlook estimates that wind farm capacity will increase from the current 622MW, to around 1,410MW and produce close to 10% of the country’s electricity by 2030. An understatement, says Eric Pyle, CEO of the Wind Energy Association, by a large margin. “…our analysis suggests that wind will be even more important than that, producing 20% of our electricity by then.”

The Energy Outlook forecast has not taken into account the lowering costs of wind power, says Pyle:

“Investigation of wind farms in New Zealand shows that recent installations are already among the lowest cost form of new generation, and international studies reveal that the cost of wind is continuing to fall.”

Nor has it allowed for learning by doing:

“We are also a relatively young industry and increasing our understanding of how to make the most of our abundant wind resource. We are developing better wind farms that can generate even cheaper renewable electricity.”

Politely he suggests that facing backwards is not the best way of looking forward:

“Using historical figures for wind farm costs does not reflect the reality of recent downwards trends, including operating and maintenance costs. Wind turbines are now very reliable, something that has improved over the last ten years.”

Perhaps the Ministry will do better next time:

“We look forward to future versions of the Energy Outlook presenting wind in an even more favourable light as officials incorporate more up to date views on the true costs of wind generation.”

Curious, I looked up the Energy Outlook document.  It’s a depressing read for anyone concerned about climate change. By 2030 New Zealand’s energy sector greenhouse gas emissions are projected to be 40-50% higher than in 1990, in spite of a substantial decrease in energy intensity. (Energy is responsible for 44% of the country’s total emissions.) There are detailed indications as to why this is the expected outcome, but it’s the overall tone of the document which disheartens most. There’s a kind of enervating complacency, I guess reflecting the fact that the government has shown little sense of urgency about the need to move away from fossil fuels.  One can’t blame the authors of the document for this. They are presumably working with the guidelines of the government’s Energy Strategy which I’ve already commented on adversely for its determination to exploit all the fossil fuels that can be found.  They obviously find it difficult to envisage any major change in direction. Coal-fired power stations they see as likely to be edged out by the Emissions Trading Scheme, but otherwise there doesn’t seem to be much that is different in the mix. There’ll likely be more gas:

High oil prices improve the economics of oil and gas field development and this leads to increased gas supply in the 2020s.

There are some anticipated moves in more hopeful directions:

Investment in new generation is dominated by geothermal and wind.

But don’t get carried away by that prospect:

The Reference Scenario also sees a net 390 MW increase in gas baseload capacity by 2030. A large plant is built in Auckland in 2026 and all existing gas stations are refurbished and remain in operation.

Transport will continue to be powered as it is today. There is no vision of, say, rapid growth in electrically-powered vehicles supplied by wind generation and maybe integrated into the grid for storage purposes. Indeed there’s no vision of anything much other than what we have now:

Transport remains reliant on oil. Electric vehicles and biofuels remain minor players, contributing less than 2% of total transport energy demand in 2030.

The Ministry of Economic Development is clearly not going to be pushing for a greening of the economy. In fact, if the Wind Energy Association CEO is right, they’re going to lag, not lead any movement towards clean energy. A document like Energy Outlook ought to be marked by the expectation of a steady progress towards a decarbonised energy economy over the next twenty years, not envisaging a large increase in emissions by comparison with 1990. The fact that it carries no such expectation is a reflection of government inaction and lack of vision. It may yet be industry which leads the way. We certainly must hope that someone will. A government which simply plays catch-up, and struggles even to do that, is far from the vanguard. That’s a shame both for the climate and for the future economy.

65 thoughts on “We’ll surpass government forecast says wind energy association”

  1. Eric Pyle is a representative of the Wind Energy lobby. His job is to talk up wind energy.

    In fact, when he appeared on TV recently, to discuss the decision by Meridian to not pursue Project Hayes, he noted that one reason was the lack of growth in electricity demand in NZ over the last few years. He also stated that wind “would be at the front of the queue” in future, which are the words of a lobbyist.

    I don’t have a problem with Mr Pyle’s approach – it is his job,.However it would be good to have a few other options put forward. For example, we have quite a lot of geothermal capabilities in NZ, and there are some big tidal flows, e.g Cook Straight, that could be harnessed.

    Some more sensible hydro options could be pursued too, without damming our pristine west coast rivers.

    1. Andy, my impression is that the Wind Energy Association is nevertheless careful and restrained in its presentation of its material. Their website certainly leaves one with this impression, as do the conversations I have had with them from time to time. I agree that other options also need attention. I have in the past written about some of the tidal and wave prospects for New Zealand, and geothermal prospects have also received mention on Hot Topic from time to time. The problem for New Zealand is that none of them receive the kind of support from government as does the search for more gas and oil.

      1. There was an interesting interview on Radio NZ (Kim Hill) a while back with a guy doing work in tidal energy. There was a sense of frustration from him that the focus wasn’t going into his work.

        Water has about 1000 times as much energy as wind per volume, so installations can be very small compared with the huge industrial wind turbines that are springing up all over Europe.

        I also saw an interesting presentation on underwater kite systems that generate power. This looked very bleeding edge though.

    2. The issue should be not if Eric Pyle is a paid representative of the Wind Energy Industry, but if his ‘words of a lobbyist’ stand up to scrutiny. Look at the fuss over the NZCSC, no one would bat an eyelid if they were being paid to disseminate objective and evidence based recommendations. Working as I do in the wind industry, I am all for continued investment in tidal and geothermal, but why not develop clean and cost effective wind power in suitable locations? It seems perverse to me to forgo an existing working technology in the hope of, many years down the line, developing tidal systems that may prove to be as good as wind. Far better don’t you think to roll out what we have working now (wind and geothermal) and continue developing the complementary tidal systems for the future.
      As for “…huge industrial wind turbines that are springing up all over Europe…” looks like you have been dipping into the UK’s proudest export, our little papers for the hard of thinking.
      The only wind turbines us Europeans have in a larger class than yours in NZ are a few trial models. Industrial, why so? Looks like silly invective to me.

      1. Industrial? I think a machine that emanates sub-audible noise, causes shadow-flicker, resulting in sleep-deprivation and health issues amongst those living close to turbines, could be fairly described as “industrial”.

        Of course, you will describe these people as NIMBYs. Poor sods that can’t even sell their houses because they are worthless.

        Keep on calling them NIMBYs. It helps my case

        1. Under British planning, if – IF a wind turbine is causing shadow flicker it must rectify this to the satisfaction of the planning authority or be shut down.
          Sub audible noise, sleep deprivation, health issues – irresponsible scare stories.
          “Poor sods that can’t even sell their houses because they are worthless.” Most NIMBYs just claim a 20 to 30% reduction in value but you leap in with worthless! – is there a culture of oneupmanship among NIMBYs for escalating scare stories? And, as I am sure you have been told before, studies where a WIND FARM HAS BEEN BUILT show no discernible impact on house prices.
          “Keep on calling them NIMBYs. It helps my case” What case is that pray tell, Munchausen syndrome?

          1. There are PLENTY of examples of the cases I cite, including at the West Wind complex in NZ. I can give you the guys phone number if you want. His house is 300-400m from the nearest turbine (check on Google maps) He has to leave his house at night sometimes because he can’t sleep.Not that this need concern you, Beaker. To the wind lobby, humans are just collateral damage in your quest to milk the subsidies for what they are worth. Can’t blame you really, I’d do the same if I had no empathy with people or the countryside.

            By the way, here’s an example of what is happening to Scotland.(there are hundreds more planned like this, by the way).


            1. Hello AndyS, this IS fun!
              Oh I have no doubt there are lots of claims, but the gulf between the number of claims and the substantiation of them is telling. If your mate at 3-400m from a turbine is genuinely suffering because of it then Meridian should act and be compelled to act. But if they are just making silly unsubstantiated claims about their house suddenly becoming horrible to live in, then any effect on the market value is their own daft fault.
              I am intrigued by the photomontage you gave a link for, can you tell us all who made it? I ask because, using the substantial mature conifer plantation immediately in front of the wind farm for scale, those turbines are very, very, VERY big! In fact I don’t think turbines that big actually exist.

            2. andyS, please zoom into your crudely Photoshopped image and tell us how such large structures were erected without roading to their bases?

              By Oompa-Loompas, perhaps?

            3. One of the things I do for a living is Photoshop, Andy. I have to say, at this stage I’m tempted to say ‘and if I’d done that one I’d be pretty ashamed.’

              See, one of the things that’s really intriguing is the jaggies – the Jpeg artifacts – there’s some bad noise there, and it’s all centred on the turbines; the amount of noise in the remainder of the image is strikingly dissimilar. There are some really weird things going on with the landscape near the blades – have a look!

              Still, photos are funny things, so let’s be fair – can you please tell us which windfarm this is, so we can seek out other images of it?

            4. The photo came from Edward Lipscomb on Facebook. I have no idea whether it was photoshopped, but I have asked the author of the post for more info.

              Nevertheless, the amount of land that has been earmarked for wind development in the UK is truly breathtaking.

              I would like to acknowledge that at least some of the commenters here (Richard Christie and John Mashey) are prepared to accept that some of my points might actually have some value.

              So for that, gents, I thank you.

            5. If you do get on to the photographer could you ask him about any zoom he was using? And what the jpeg quality was?

              There’s no doubt Whitelees is a huge windfarm with a big visual impact, but none of the other photos I’ve seen that convey this also feel so, um, not-quite right.

              For interesting studies on Windfarm impact please note this rather innovative effort.

              Over here, I think Wind Farms at the moment are like asylum-seekers, and pretty-well every other new arrival in Australia – targets of relentless cynicism and hyper-scrutiny, receiving virtually no benefit of the doubt, at least on the ‘talkback’ end of the social spectrum.

              My property backs on a railway line, I also live near a cement works, other folks live under the flight-path, near power sub-stations etc.. All these things may well cause stress and discomfort, yet are clearly not the subjects of the kind of blatant hysteria some sectors – often identical to the anti-AGW brigade – insist on directing at wind turbines.

          2. As strong supporter of wind energy I think it is unhelpful to dismiss low frequency noise problems (imo ‘sub audible’ is an unhelpful term).

            Low frequency noise can cause to real distress (and associated health problems) to some, little or no distress to others.

            Far better to face the problem constructively, dismissing low frequency noise as a scare story isn’t constructive. Ceasing to use A-weighted scale when assessing SPLs would be a good start.

            1. Yes, it is only right that the issues be properly studied, because there may be real effects, or may not. For example, see is this or this.
              I do not assert these are right or wrong, merely note that being serious about possible effects is fair.
              Any given energy project may or may not be a good idea, depending on the place and circumstances, and reasonable people can differ.

              A difficulty is that there may be real effects, but some may be imagined, and some seem to amplify them. Heartland has yet to see a wind turbine project that was any good and is especially worried about bird deaths, which it mentions often. On the other hand, Heartland often writes of overblown worries on:: asbestos, dioxins, DDT, cigarettes, mercury (OK from coal, terrible in CFLs).

              Bird deaths are suggestive: an early wind farm at CA’s Altamont pass used small turbines and turned out to be located in bird migration corridor. The right approach was not to stop or to ignore it, but take it seriously and in this case, upgrade to modern, bigger, slower designs.

              Just as for other engineering/environment issues, it takes time and effort to get zoning right and the same care should be taken with turbines as for fracking, for example. f

            2. There is a Leventhal quote that I am to tired to look up, it goes something along the lines of ‘The health effects of low frequency noise are well understood, and the noise emissions of wind turbines are known. They do not emit significant levels of low frequency noise with regard o potential health effects.’ I am all for continual improvement and refinement of regulation, but there are many priorities ahead of ETSU-97R (that appears to have begat the current NZ regs) particularly when ETSU has robustly stood up to many concerted attacks at inquiry and judicial review. That NZ revamped its regs a few years ago is in effect an endorsement of the ‘out of date ETSU’.

  2. Slightly O/T, but on the subject of renewables TVNZ news just ran a piece on a new subdivision in Christchurch that will be entirely equipped with Solar P/V.

    This looks like a fairly big win for the local company that will be making these panels too.

    Nothing much to moan about here!

    1. Solar PV is indeed NZ’s sleeping giant of electricity generation. Grid tie PV systems of about 2KW to 3KW nominal capacity are available under $10,000 + installation (not complex) and will produce a higher monthly gain than the same amount invested at current term investment rates. Plus as avoided purchases of KWh from the power company are a tax free advantage, its mostly a tax free gain for the operator. With 24 Years warranty on the systems it would seem that many households will sooner or later connect PV systems to the grid. Meridian currently offers a dollar for dollar deal whereby they pay the producer as much for the power as they charge. The with the grid as battery small scale PV has become cost effective and economical for all.

        1. Solar hot water has been a no-brainer for decades. I would assume that solar HW is the first step any property will undertake because it gets the biggest and easiest gain in avoided electricity purchases and burning a high value energy for as electricity to make hot domestic water seems just wasteful indeed.
          As per your dig against wind arms mentioning subsidies: In NZ there are no subsidies and wind farms must sell their power to the national grid in the same auction process as all other suppliers.
          In NZ wind energy investments are profitable on market principles alone. That is why so many investors such as overseas pension funds want to get in.

  3. Anyway, to get back on topic, lets talk about this 20% figure.

    Does anyone have any data on the feasibility of this?
    (1) How many turbines?
    (2) How many hectares of land required.?
    (3) How many resource consent applications?
    (4) How many “NIMBYs” to deal with (also known as “people” in the deniersphere)
    (5) How much baseload capability needs to be factored in, whether hydro, gas or whatever
    (6) What is the “end to end” carbon cost of wind energy, by the time you have factored in the steel required to manufacture the turbine towers, the concrete required to build the bases, the non-recyclable composite materials required to build the turbine blades, the mining of the neodymium magnets in China, the shipment of these products to NZ, the ongoing maintenance required, the roads and the transport required to run these things, often in remote and inhospitable places and of course the cost of decommissioning the plant after its useful life

    So. any ideas?

    1. I will leave 1 to 4 for any NZ planners.
      5) none, because of the existing non intermittent generators on the grid. Add wind to the grid and it displaces generation from other generators that have higher marginal cost. Wind like nuclear has very low marginal cost because it costs as much to stand idle as to run so will always undercut fossil fuel generators (you don’t sell electricity at less than the cost of the coal/gas burnt to generate it).
      6) search for ‘wind turbine life cycle assessment’ Vestas have a range for different class of turbines, prepared by independent consultant engineers. andyS will be pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised by the results.

      1. “Wind like nuclear has very low marginal cost because it costs as much to stand idle as to run so will always undercut fossil fuel generators (you don’t sell electricity at less than the cost of the coal/gas burnt to generate it).”

        The cost of electricity is made up of operating cost and amortization of the generating plant. Very commonly operating cost and amortization per unit are very similar.

        You imply that the operation cost of a wind turbine is zero. Perhaps it is but the amortization of the plant remains. Since wind is intermittent 100% backup by thermal plants, which have to be kept spinning, is required. When the amortization costs of the backup thermal plant are added to the amortization costs of the wind powered plant the economics are very questionable.

        1. I dont imply that the running cost of a wind turbine is zero any more than I imply that the running cost of a nuclear plant is zero. I said marginal cost. I implied no such thing, you concocted that.
          “…100% backup by thermal plants, which have to be kept spinning…” Tosh. Frequency response systems are there in the grid to manage rapid change in demand, far more rapid than variation in output from wind generation. Adding wind to an existing conventional grid displaces generation from existing generators of higher marginal cost, reducing fossil fuel consumption and/or conserving hydro resources for load following. Both good things. Wind penetration in the grid needs to be massive before any additional backup is needed, and it will not be 100%. As Thomas points out below, you have in NZ the blessing of very high hydro penetration of the grid providing very low C frequency response and backup. Please point to the fossil fuel generation that was added to the NZ grid to back up 100% the current installed wind farms.

          1. “Where did you get that from? I could make some suggestions but they would be censored!

            As for the speed of response Bryan Leyland is the expert here, not you. He has forgotten more about electrical engineering than you ever learned.

            1. And Bryan Leyland has “forgotten” that a real electricity system has many option for instantaneous backup rather than keeping a thermal plant on spinning reserve. It may be true somewhere in the world but it certainly isn’t true in NZ.

    2. AndyS: further to the question (5): NZ’s high hydro component in the current mix provides an ideal balance to intermittent producers such as Wind and Solar. Simply throttling the outflow from existing hydro schemes works as a loss-less energy store and will assist the nation to cope with annual lake level issues which due to climate change might get worse in the future. NZ’s system is ideally suited to accept 20% wind and certainly a fairly significant PV component into the mix.

      1. This 20% figure seems quite ambitious to me. As far as I know, the only country that claims to have 20% penetration of wind is Denmark (I will no doubt be corrected here)

        However, this figure is misleading because Denmark is close to Norway, which has close to 100% penetration of hydro, not to mention other European countries where it can dump excess capacity, or buy in capacity,as required.

        NZ, by comparison, has no Euro-grid to load balance against, yet we aim to have the most ambitious wind energy in the world?

        If hydro can load balance wind, then don’t we need to have extra hydro capacity to compensate for the extra wind? Are we not merely “saving water”. Although this has benefits, it doesn’t appear at first glance to be adding any capacity to the grid, unless you are able to run the hydro schemes at greater throughput.

        What I’d really like to see is a breakdown of energy per sector and projections for the next 10-20 years.The 20% figure doesn’t really stand by itself as any meaningful kind of number.

        1. Andy, adding 20% into the mix will significantly reduce the times when we have to fire up rapid response ultra costly oil fired backup generation which catapults the NZ spot electricity price into very high levels.
          What most people do not understand is that while Wind is intermittent on average in NZ with its wide geographic range there are only rare cases when wind energy is not delivering. Most of the time win energy provides power at low cost of around $0.07 / kwhr into the wholesale market.

          Check out the data here:

          May of the very high peaks in this graph of high cost generation would disappear with a 20% wind component in NZ and many times wind at $0.07 / Kwhr will displace fossil fuel generation at $0.20 or more / Kwhr.

          Further: The future will definitely bring a significant component of electric transport. Cars are parked 9x% of their lifetime and can be connected to the grid when they are. Soaking up temporary excess generation when it happens and even contribute to ironing out steep short high cost peaks once we get a two way intelligent charging infrastructure.
          The future also will bring adjustments of our habits. Demanding 24/7 delivery of energy at will to anybody anywhere will need to be thought through. Intelligent use of time dependent energy availability will become the norm. Think about smart appliances who store “energy” such as freezers and fridges balancing their power draw to current power costs made transparent by a smart metering environment and much more.
          The way we use energy today is rather crude and unintelligent and much development will happen in this field to match the future of sustainable energy generation to our needs.

          1. Ok, Thomas, thanks for the info.

            Now the $64 question. How many turbines and hectares of land will be required to service this level of wind, and where will they go?

        2. South Australia might be a better comparison for NZ wind generation. We now produce >20% of our power from wind.

          2 things I noted particularly. Most windfarms are at locations away from the centralised fossil burning power stations. Even when you ignore the load balancing question, this obviously must have an effect on transmission losses.

          Secondly, one of SA’s advantages according to wiki is the proximity to the ‘Roaring 40s’. NZ is a tad closer to this particular asset.

    3. AndyS: On the EROEI (how much energy is returned compared to the energy invested) scale wind energy is rather good and much better than coal for example.


      Coal is such a bad performer on the energy efficiency side of things based on the large energy requirement to mine, process and transport the coal (the energy you are after) to the furnaces. With oil production from gushers with high EROEI now fading away and oil production of the future depending more and more on low EROEI “unconventional” sources Oils energy efficiency is dropping well below that of Wind already.

  4. The health issues of wind are discussed in Laura Israel’s movie “Windfall”. It also describes how wind developers move into a rural area and destroy the community there.

    The HuffPo have reviewed the movie

    People who are living with these turbines nearby are developing hypertension, migraines and heart palpitations,” she says. “There are some really spooky health effects, even with a turbine a mile away — I’ve heard people say they can feel their heart beating at the same pace as the turbines.

    The effects of the turbines’ low frequency sound are chilling — nearby residents sleeping in basements, unable to stop the 24/7 noise and visual pollution. But the budding industry — growing now at a startling 39 percent annually — is choosing not to deal with them. “Instead of dealing with it, they’re trying to discredit the people complaining,” she says.

    When the sun gets behind the blades of the turbines, an incessant and mechanical shadowy flicker is the result. Closing shades and curtains makes no difference. “It just doesn’t stop,” she says. “People say you don’t get used to it — you get sick.”


    1. Does this movie substantiate any of the health effect claims? When presented with medical reviews of claimed health effects, and a film, do you put your trust in the film?
      Do you take steps each night to protect yourself from teenage vampires, I hear they are everywhere.

      1. Laura Israel, film-maker: Instead of dealing with it, they’re trying to discredit the people complaining,” she says.

        Beaker: Do you take steps each night to protect yourself from teenage vampires, I hear they are everywhere.

        I rest my case.

  5. Patrick Moore also has a dig at wind energy ( and Greenpeace, the organisation he co-founded).

    No doubt he is vilified as a turncoat, denier, and traitor to The Cause.

    Dr. Patrick Moore told more than 1,000 area farmers the industry destroys more jobs than it creates, and causes energy prices to climb for all users.

    “The industry is a destroyer of wealth and negative to the economy,” said Moore, speaking at the 19th annual Southwest Agricultural Conference at Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph.

    Moore, who now refers to himself as the “sensible environmentalist,” said the solar bubble has burst and thinks the wind bubble is about to burst.


  6. For you photoshop fans, here is another graphic that gives an indication of the size of industrial wind machines


    Of course, the London Eye is quite a well known landmark in London. One would imagine that an industrial turbine placed in a small peaceful country village that is of greater size would have a somewhat greater visual impact.

    Of course, this is of no importance.

    We need to ignore the sufferings of the NIMBYs, who are merely collateral damage in our quest to create a truly sustainable future.
    I am sure that we all agree that 400 ft bird choppers plastered across every single vista in NZ is the way forward.

    We know that the power of the choppers goes up as a cube of the turbine diameter, so if you reduce the size of the chopper, you need a lot more choppers.

    So,less but bigger choppers is clearly the way forward.

    Since you cannot answer my question on how many of these choppers we need in NZ to create a 20% penetration of the market, I will take that as a tacit yes, and that you would all be happy to live next to one of these things. OK?

    I am sure that Beaker, once he crawls out of his cave after a hard days trolling on the Daily Mail and Teh Grauniad, will fill me in on my misconceptions.

  7. Birdchoppers
    If you follow the attached link you will see some annual reports on the ornithology watching brief for three big turbines on the Severn Estuary, a Ramsar site – an internationally important wetland site for migrating birds.
    Demonstration that with proper planning control you can find good locations for wind turbines where there will not be a detrimental effect on birdlife. That is why andyS wind turbine developers spend a year plus studying bird activity on a potential site before any planning application.
    I am not the person to tell you how many wind turbines should be built in NZ because I work in the UK silly. I would be happy to live close to one since you ask, and know several people who have been pleased to move close to one.
    As for wind turbines being placed IN small peaceful villages, do you have a photoshop of that also?
    Still waiting on your evidence to back up your slagging off of RSPB by the way.

    1. I am sure you work very hard on bird migration paths. Raptors are a bit more tricky of course, being of a soaring nature and ones that congregate on ridgelines when turbines tend to be placed.

      No doubt I will be delivered the usual strawman arguments about how many birds get killed on roads, by cats, and by building strike.

      However, one would imagine that if an Oregon wind operator applied for the legal right to kill Golden Eagles, there would be an outrage in the environmental movement, yet apart from a small group of “NIMBYs” who have raised a petition, there is no interest from the usual suspects such as Greenpeace.

      We in NZ spent millions relocating a bunch of rare snails (and managed to kill most of them when the thermostat went wrong), yet when Wind Operator get resource consent for wind turbines on the Mt Cass ridgeline, a site of nesting falcons and hawks, we hear not a squeak.

      Funny that.

      1. Why would it be a strawman to point out that NZ falcon and Australasian Harrier are killed on roads?
        They are also killed on power lines and transformers. Their young are killed by predators.

        1. Harriers are killed on the roads all the time ( I used to carry a ski pole in my van for moving dead possums and rabbits off the road if a harrier was at risk ) but falcons don’t eat carrion.
          I don’t think turbines in New Zealand would be sited close to ridges birds of prey would soar – too turbulent there for good power production.

          1. Makara (West Wind) is on a ridge line. The proposed installation at Mt Cass is also a long ridge line. The wind is not turbulent if the ridge is sea facing as it gets mainly sea breeze ridge lift.

            Mt Cass has some other interesting challenges in that it is in a region where we have had 3 major earthquakes in the last 18 months, and the aftershocks are still rolling through. The proposed turbines will be twice the height of the collapsed Cathedral spire in Christchurch.

    1. What a stupid thing to say AndyS. I could likewise look out the window on a rainy day and claim that its not worth while to pack sunscreen when going to visit New Zealand….
      Completely contrary to your silly post this is the fact:

      December was an extremely windy month in the United Kingdom, resulting in wind farms supplying a record high of 12.2% of the UK’s electricity demand on December 28, and an average of 5.3% of demand over the entire month. That surge in wind power helped the UK cut its carbon emissions by over 750,000 tons – equivalent to taking over 300,000 cars off the road.

      The UK Wind farms combined avoided annually 6.8 million tons of CO2 emissions or about 2.5 Million tons of coal being burned. That is a train of 25,000 carriages (100 Ton each) of coal. Such a train would have had the length of over 500km…

      While this is impressive a lot of work remains to be done until the world reaches a new balance of sustainable living arrangements…..

    2. Todays output
      Wind percentage of total UK energy 2.9%
      (Coal 42.3%, Nuclear 14% ,CCGT 36.3%)

      So the CCGT has nudged out coal by about 10%. Wind has increased 10 fold, but still less than 3% (it did get up to 5% yesterday)

      Now I would guess that the CO2 “savings” were much bigger from the 10% shift from coal to gas (CCGT) than any offering from wind.

  8. I’ll have a ‘ballpark’ go at Andy’s questions (1) to (3) at least….

    (1) how many turbines.
    NZ uses about 40,000 GWh of electricity a year. Allow for a bit of growth and to simplify the maths lets say it’s 50,000 GWh by 2030. 20% of that is a nice round 10,000 GWh.
    If our average turbine of the future is 2MW each will deliver about 6 GWh per year (2 MW x 8760 hours x 35% capacity factor). So we need about 1700 turbine to get 10,000 GWh.
    (2) how many hectares
    With a generous spacing allowance each turbine will need about 18 ha so that is about 30,000 ha of land that will be called “wind farm”. That is about 0.1 % of NZ’s land area so I don’t think we will be bumping into turbines everywhere.
    (3) how many resource consents.
    a) A similar number to what there will be to get this energy from any other source
    b) If the average wind farm has 50 turbines there will be 34 consents.

    1. Andrew, thanks for the ballpark figures. It gives something to work with.

      Initially, I am sceptical of the 35% figure you quote. I realise NZ claims to have better wind utilisation than the UK, but I’d like to see the data to support this.

      Secondly, dividing number of hectares by total land area is also a bit misleading, as a lot of that area is remote and unusable for development.

      In response to accusations of “cherry picking”, I was providing a real-time snapshot of live data that can be viewed at any time.
      A more interesting observation, perhaps, is the very high percentage of coal generation that forms the mix. Also note that energy from the interconnectors (i.e from French nuclear etc) is at zero.

      1. The capacity factor of NZ wind farms is higher than 35% at present and more like 45%:

        Over the span of a year, New Zealand wind farms generate at an average of around 45% of their rated output – this figure is also referred as “capacity factor” and is among the highest in the world.

        So the 35% was a very conservative estimate.

        Further this whole Capacity factor focus is rather silly. If you buy a turbine that is theoretically capable of 2MW but by means of control throttle it to 1MW max you get a doubling of the “capacity factor” based on the max 1MW figure…
        What is the important number is the total MWh generation over the year from $$ of investment. And that is the only figure that economically counts in the end. In that regard NZ wind shines!
        Bryan Leyland commented today on the news that “Oh Dear” power wholesale prices have shot up to 15 Cent/Khr due to lower lake levels… Why do you think that is so??
        The NZ Wind installed capacity produces economically at 7 Cent/KWhr. The hydro dams in existence even cheaper. So who produces at such a high cost that the national wholesale price shot to 15 Cent then? The answer: Our fossil fuel power plants such as Huntley and others!!
        So while you distrust wind energy for whatever fear is driving your agenda, the fact is: If we had a lot more wind power already in the mix todays spot prices would be lower! And Bryan Leyland also would not have to voice concern over lake levels as we would have higher levels today from those times when wind over capacity caused lake level drain to be throttled back.

        Somehow the anti alternative energy trolls always come out sounding like the defenders of horse driven postal coaches in the age of the Internet….

        1. Somehow the anti alternative energy trolls always come out sounding like the defenders of horse driven postal coaches in the age of the Internet….

          It is the “alternative energy” that will drive us back into the horse-driven era, not the other way around.

        2. Data to support the 35% figure is available from various sources MED’s Energy Data FIle being one. MED (as an independent source) deserve a good rating but they give the answer in rather cryptic Petajoules and only have figures to 2010.

          So – the output of the NZ wind fleet for the 2010 calendar year was 5.88 Petajoules =1633 GigaWatt hours (per WolframAlpha) From NZWEA installed capacity in 2010 was about 490 MW (622 MW per para 1 at the top of this post less 4 sites commissioned in 2011 and allowing half of Te Rere Hau which was under construction and progressively commissioned).

          Calculating capacity factor as 1633000 MWh / (490MW x 8760hrs) gives 36%. As Thomas notes most NZ wind farms report higher capacity factors than this (around 45% is not uncommon) and I suspect the 5.88 GWh is a low side assessment, eg I have heard that it only includes grid connected generation. But it should at least backup my deliberately conservative choice of 35%.

          1. On the land question…. okay I’ll do the googling for you.

            NZ agricultural land area is about 115,000 sq.km. Hence our 30,000 ha (300 sq.km) of wind farms is 0.26% of NZ’s agricultural land. Of course in excess of 95% of that remains in agricultural production and for many farmers it will be the most productive land that they have.

            1. btw AndyS – our discussion on the DomPost article suffered an early end through lack of moderation (ie my reply to you never got posted up). I think someone covered it above but just in case…there are no subsidies in the NZ market.

  9. Licence to kill parrots: a wind farm anomaly

    A Tasmanian wind farm is operating with a licence to kill up to six endangered orange-bellied parrots every two years — the same birds that the Federal Government last week declared must be saved at all costs.

    In 2001, then federal environment minister Robert Hill approved the Woolnorth wind farm in north-west Tasmania, along the main flight path for the parrot, with several conditions to protect migrating birds.

    Among the conditions was that the wind farm developer had to notify the minister when orange-bellied parrot deaths from collisions with turbines exceeded six in two years.

    Even if more than six birds were killed within two years, the company would not be penalised, instead only being obliged to plan for reducing the deaths before the next migration period.


    That’s the great thing about being Green. You can chose the endangered species you kill.

    1. They must really hate birds in Tasmania

      Deaths of rare eagles rise
      THE number of eagles killed by turbine blades at one of Australia’s largest wind farms is climbing, with a rare juvenile wedge-tailed eagle the 22nd to die at Woolnorth in Tasmania’s north-west.

      The farm is killing two protected species at the rate of about 3.2 eagles a year, according to a count by the operator, Roaring 40s.

      Most of the birds were wedge-tailed, but three white bellied sea eagles have also been killed by the blades, Roaring 40s avian ecologist Cindy Hull said in Hobart.


      1. Have you been a bird enthusiast for long AndyS? Or is it just another way you have come up with for having a lash at wind turbines.

        Serious bird conservationists have this to say….” Audubon strongly supports properly-sited wind power as a clean alternative energy source that reduces the threat of global warming”

        1. Letter to RSPB copied with permission of author


          Mr Michael Clarke
          The Lodge
          SG19 2DL

          February 6, 2012.

          Dear Sir,

          This is in response to you letter of 24 January 2012 which replied to mine of 9 January in which I terminated my membership of RSPB. .

          Firstly, I must thank you for the courtesy and length of your letter, which is in marked contrast to the very anaemic responses that usually emanate from politicians.

          On the subject of human induced global warming I remain convinced that there is no such thing and that we are entirely wrong to be spending enormous amounts of money chasing specters. It is a fact that earth temperature has remained stubbornly stable since 1997, despite a considerable increase in CO2 levels.

          What concerns me very greatly is the seeming indifference to bird and bat deaths that are being caused by wind turbines and the enormously extended power lines that are required to support them. Recent publications indicate that the level of deaths is actually alarming and should be a matter of prime concern for RSPB.

          You will doubtless be aware of the First Scientific Congress on Wind Energy and Wildlife that was held on 12 January 2012 at Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. At the congress the Spanish Society of Ornithology made public its estimate that every year the 18,000 wind turbines in Spain cause between 6 and 18 million bird and bat deaths. This is an average of between 333 and 1,000 deaths every year for every turbine.

          In Germany the death rate is as high as 309 per annum and in Sweden it is as high as 895 deaths per annum. (Benner et al). In USA the American Bird Conservation group says that there are 44,000 birds killed per annum but admit that this is a probable major under-estimate. Similar rates of death are seen in studies elsewhere. For example, when I was in Australia in 2010 there were newspaper reports of several brolgas being killed at one wind turbine site and at another a flock of corellas was decimated. Concern has also expressed that the Tasmanian Wedge Tailed eagle will soon be extinct if death rates continue as at present.

          We know that the death rate of birds from hitting high-tension lines is very significant. There is a considerable increase in these lines to serve turbine sites, which are often located at long distances from existing grid lines. Hoerschelman et al (1988) claim that HT lines in Germany kill at the rate of 400 birds per annum per kilometer of line in migration areas. Bird Life International (2003) claim a rate of 500 bird deaths/km/annum in migration areas. Koops (1987) claims a rate of 200 deaths/km/annum in the USA and from this he extrapolates that there are 130 million to 174 million bird deaths per year in the USA.

          At the infamous Altamount Pass wind turbine site in USA recent estimates suggest that bird death rates are as much as 14,000 per annum. This has so caused concern that the turbines are shut down during migration seasons but even so, many deaths continue.

          There appears to be no worthwhile study of death rates in UK but it is not likely that they will be any less than we find in nearby European countries and may well be worse in migration areas. I would not expect BTO to do any useful studies because they are affiliated to University of East Anglia of climategate notoriety.

          It seems to me that any organisation that is supposedly devoted to protection of birds should be screaming blue murder at what are totally unacceptable death rates of our birds and bats. If actual death rates were even 10% of what is being claimed, they would still be unacceptable. But from RSPB we hear the occasional whimper and a few objections, very few of which result in effective rejection of planning applications.

          Many of the bird and bat species that are being killed are protected and if people or companies are found to be killing them then they may be subject to heavy fines. RSPB has done much to stop poisoning of raptors by prosecuting in appropriate cases. Oil companies have been heavily fined when birds have died in oil spills. But when wind turbines kill they do so with no penalty or even complaint from RSPB. I believe that RSPB should be actively pursuing developers who are killing our wild life.

          Yours sincerely,

          1. So it looks like the RSPB and the Audobon Society agree that global warming is a serious threat which warrants some compromise in attempting to mitigate.

            I have serious doubts over the numbers of bird deaths attributed to wind turbines in the above letter. But, it does provide some interesting context in that the really significant killer is HT power lines a mere 10,000 times more deadly than the infamous Altamont Pass.

            Is the author proposing removal of all HT lines, or just those servicing wind farms? How much will this reduce the 130 million by?

          2. What a load of Tosh. Quite frankly I think that the RSPB with its very large membership can be quite relaxed about the loss to its ranks of the author of this letter. Someone who appears to believe that the British Trust for Ornithology and Uni. East Anglia are involved in some nefarious dishonest pact.
            In the UK, and also I note in NZ, the potential for impact on bird life is taken very seriously by planning authorities considering wind turbines. To get permission, developers like myself have to demonstrate that we are not harming bird populations, particularly sensitive species. We bin far more sites than we ever try to progress.
            I gave you a link to an actual ornithology watching brief for wind turbines on the Severn Estuary, a Ramsar site. Your response on ‘migration paths’ suggests that you have little idea of what a Ramsar site is. You then start banging on about the Oregon wind farm and its ‘right to kill’ Golden Eagles. If you actually read up about this case before commenting then you are dishonest and/or daft. I suspect however that you just lifted it out of some web clearing house of reactionary drivel.
            Elsewhere you bang on about the sanctity of the scientific method (with the Popper quote also curtesey of your swivel eyed nut job website crib sheets?) but be it renewable energy or climate change, you cling to poorly attributed anecdotes you think support your predetermined opinion, and ignore evidence.
            Do you find this fulfilling somehow?

            1. What I find fulfilling is waiting for you to turn up beaker, with your usual “rebuttals” trying to justify your “industry” (I use that term loosely)

              It is quite clear, looking at the live data from the UK grid that wind is a complete waste of time.

              Wind has fluctuated from 0.1% to 5% in the time that I looked. If we scale up to 30,000 more turbines, then maybe that will be 10 times the amount.
              What kind of grid would want to randomly fluctuate between 1 and 50% of grid load in a matter of days? Even Germany thinks wind is going to destabilise their grid. The best thing of all, is that “advocacy groups” are preventing them wiring their turbines up to the grid

              Funnily enough Kevin Myers in the Irish Independent, seems along the same lines think that Energy policy based on renewables will win hearts but won’t protect their owners from frostbite and death due to exposure

              I am particularly enthralled by his closing remarks.

              Mad, isn’t it? And madder still that RTE or the BBC will continue to trot out their pet wind-enthusiasts to bluster balderdash and poppycock about global warming and how renewables are the solution — and without the contrary point of view ever being given an airing. This is dogma, as created, promulgated and enforced by the John Charles McQuaids of our time — and if sceptics are not actually anathematised from the pulpit, they are ruthlessly and systematically ignored. These dishonest, hypocritical and deceitful energy policies are now widely accepted by our political and teaching classes as being the very embodiment of environmentalist virtue. Such imbecilic virtue, if implemented as energy policy across Europe, could have brought about a human catastrophe last weekend.

              I expect the one who names himself after a muppet will have a suitable crisp response.

  10. andyS, your quote an intemperate article from the Irish Independent (though no doubt put on to it by Dellingpole, your swivel eyed nut job website crib sheet!). I like the line, “And madder still that RTE or the BBC will continue to trot out their pet wind-enthusiasts to bluster balderdash and poppycock about global warming and how renewables are the solution — and without the contrary point of view ever being given an airing.” Instead of this invective, why not just expose the “bluster balderdash and poppycock about global warming” using the objective rigour and honesty you claim to adhere to?

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