Massive wind farm gets go-ahead in New Zealand

15:37, May 27, 2011      

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New Zealand environment authorities have approved plans for a massive wind farm that could provide enough electricity for 170,000 homes.

The wind farm, to be named Hauauru ma raki (Maori for "north west wind") will comprise 168 turbines along 34 km of land along the upper northwest coast of the North Island.

The project, proposed by Contact Energy, New Zealand's biggest listed energy company, and Wind Farm Group, is expected to generate 540 megawatts of electricity.

The company's original proposal included the construction, operation and maintenance of a 220-kV transmission line, three substations, associated support structures, equipment and facilities.

New Zealand's environment minister appointed a board of inquiry to consider the proposal and objections to it in 2008.

Secretary for the Environment Dr Paul Reynolds said the turbines at the Hauauru ma raki farm could not exceed 150 meters in height, with a maximum of three blades, each up to 50 meters long.

Noise restrictions were also placed on the turbines.

However, the project was not expected to be started soon as then Contact managing director David Baldwin indicated in February that the company would first concentrate on more cost-efficient geothermal operations.

The consultation process saw 96 submissions on the proposals including 31 openly for and 33 openly against - and objectors have 15 days to lodge an appeal.

Contact chief executive Dennis Barnes said in a statement Friday that the granting of the Hauauru ma raki final consent was "pleasing".

Contact Energy says of the project on its company website: "New Zealand's demand for energy is growing strongly at about two percent per annum. The country needs large amounts of new electricity generation and, with concern growing about the effects of climate change, that electricity increasingly needs to come from renewable sources."

Source: Xinhua
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