Wind power is a significant current and future energy source, already providing around 4% of New Zealands electric power needs.
New Zealand’s maritime climate and separation from other land masses supports use of electricity generated by wind power. Increasingly wind farms and generators are achieving resource consent and being constructed.
There is potential for micro-generation, power generated for single properties or businesses, predominantly wind is generating power that is going into New Zealand’s national grid. Longer term there are limits to how much power can be met through wind generation based on engineering, resource consent and storage.
The cost of electricity generated from wind power is also relatively expensive across the lifetime of the plant and engineering required and further scientific advances will be an important factor in the future direction of wind power. According to 2008 figures Denmark generates the highest percentage of its electricity supply from wind achieving nearly 20% .
New Zealand 16 wind farms, with 450 turbines, some of the farms are under construction. Half the wind energy produced comes from the Manawatu while the largest farm at Tararua has 134 turbines.
There is potential for windfarms to power Christchurch and already power companies who serve Christchurch residents are providing wind energy to the national grid. A small wind turbine is a future possibility in the city but much better for rural areas. There are a few issues, terrain needs to have consistent and reliable wind flow, and there are cost and noise considerations. Smaller neighbourhoods or communities might find a turbine could assist their energy requirements, but this is a future opportunity.
A major factor in wind farming is terrain and wind prospecting is an important part of siting farms. Terrain can cause turbulence, and is a critical issue in terms of height and prevailing winds.