Can wind meet all our electricity needs?
By the beginning of 2005 a total wind capacity of 168 MW had been installed in New Zealand. This is about 2% of our energy needs and provides energy for 75,000 average households but New Zealand’s wind resource is enormous. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Agency (EEAC) stated in their Review of New Zealand's Wind Energy Potential to 2015 that there is enough long term physical wind energy potential in New Zealand to provide in the order of 100,000 GWh per year, which is three times the current total electricity generation rate per year.

Yet New Zealand remains close to the bottom of the "league table" compared with other countries in terms of the percentage of our electricity consumption met by wind energy. The 2% wind energy capacity will place us about eighteenth in the world. By comparison, Denmark already generates 20% of its electricity from wind power. But New Zealand’s wind industry is unique world wide in that it has been installed without any form of governmental support.

The study recently undertaken by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority has reviewed earlier assessments of New Zealand’s wind resource and shows that if economic and resource consent conditions were favorable, wind energy is set to make an even greater contribution to electricity generation in New Zealand. There is a potential for more than 2,500MW to be generated by wind. That is enough electricity for over one million New Zealand homes.

Wind power alone will meet all our electricity needs. But harnessing the power of wind, New Zealand could create a diverse and secure energy mix with other renewable energy sources, such as existing hydro, geothermal, solar hot water heating and biomass, and become a world leader by running on 100% renewable energy.

Europe has a 25% wind factor. New Zealand has a 40% - 50% wind factor.

Notes:
www.eeca.govt.nz/uploadedDocuments/windsup_final.pdf
Greenpeace and EWEA report "Wind Force 12", 2003
www.eeca.govt.nz/programmes/renewable/whatarethey/wind.aspx

 
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