NZ is Saudi Arabia of wind, Meridian tells hearing

New Zealand is regarded as the "Saudi Arabia of wind" and is perfect for wind farm energy production, an Environment Court appeal hearing in Cromwell was told yesterday.

Meridian Energy wind technical strategy manager Paul Botha, of Wellington, said the 92sq km site proposed for Project Hayes was one of the best he had seen in 14 years of working on wind energy projects around the world.

"Wind farm sites of the size and wind quality of Project Hayes are rare in New Zealand and internationally. I don't believe there is another site in the country which has the same or comparable qualities and is matched by only a few others in the world," he said.

Mr Botha designed the layout of Project Hayes, which comprises 176 turbines on the Lammermoor Range.

He said the discovery of a high wind resource suitable for energy production on and around the Lammermoor Range was made by the late Dr Keith Dawber in 1979.

Dr Dawber, of the University of Otago physics department, collected wind data from the area for 12 years until 1991, for the New Zealand Energy Research and Development Committee and later Electricorp Production.

Mr Botha said the average wind speed over the Project Hayes site was more than 8m per sec at an 80m height.

Turbines on the site will be 100m tall with a blade length of 60m.

At least seven wind turbine manufacturers will be considered by Meridian for Project Hayes, including Enercon, GE Wind Systems, Nordex, RePower, Siemens, Suzlon, and Vestas.

During cross-examination by Upland Landscape Protection Society counsel Ewan Carr, Mr Botha agreed to make available additional wind data collected by Meridian on the proposed Project Hayes site.

Mr Carr asked to be provided with temperatures recorded on wind monitoring masts at different heights, as well as a breakdown of which data (already supplied) was raw and which was synthesised.

Meridian counsel Andrew Beatson asked for the data to remain confidential, which Judge Jon Jackson allowed.

The data will only be supplied to participant parties of the appeal hearing, and can only be provided by them to independent experts for review, in aid of the court proceedings.


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