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The objectives of this course are to enable students to:

1. Demonstrate and apply an understanding of the relevant theories and processes of communication in an engineering context including written and oral communications
2. Understand professional and academic researching, referencing and reporting protocols.

Data Collection

Terms of Reference

This report was by the state department of energy of New Zealand. The report investigates the various sources wind turbines and farms that are present in the country and the amount of power generated by each of the wind turbine plants. It aimed at establishing the steps New Zealand has moved in terms of migration towards green energy. Recommendations will be made to establish if there is need to establish more wind turbines depending on the findings of the report based on the prevailing circumstances. The report as requested on 12 April 2018 to be submitted by June 2018. 

Data and information were gathered for this report by:

Establishing the exact number of wind turbine plants and farms in New Zealand

Organizing visits to each of the wind turbine plants to find out the amount of energy generated by the plants

Holding a formal meeting with the management of each of the plants to discuss the effectiveness of the plants

Inspection of the various sites in the context of the geographical composition to establish a possibility of creating more wind turbine plants

Reaching out to the various departments and organizations dealing with energy for comments and possible criticisms of the proposals following the findings from the research

Sustainability remains one of the most widely discussed and championed agenda across the globe. Green and renewable energy is one of such was of promoting if not achieving sustainability (Nelson, 2013). The use of wind turbines or farms to convert wind energy into electricity that can be used for various purposes serves as one of the forms of green energy that promote energy efficiency and thus sustainability. New Zealand, just like any other countries is not left behind in the push for greener energy. The country has invested a lot of resources in the energy sector to ensure that her citizens receive more affordable and efficient energy.

As a result of increased demand for energy for use both in the private and public sector, it has been deemed important to establish the effectiveness of the amount of energy that is generated from the wind turbines across New Zealand (Ngo, 2012). A need has risen to find out if the amount of energy generated through the wind turbines supplements to any significant levels the energy requirement in the country. This is achieved through finding out the amount of energy produced by the wind turbines and comparing it against the energy load of the country. From the comparison, recommendations are then made on what can be done moving forward.

Wind Resources and Potential in New Zealand

New Zealand is on the global record as the country with one of the bests wind resources due to its geographical location in which the country lies across the prevailing westerly winds. To generate maximum energy from this potential, the turbines are built in a location where the blowing of the winds is hard enough to power the turbines for up to over 95% of the time. This translates to a generation of electricity for over 363 days a year by the farms (Rivkin, 2013).

Farm sites are investigated by taking measurements of the flow of wind and an extensive comprehension of the conditions of the local wind. Sophisticated computer models are used in the identification of viable sites and then the actual measurements of the speed of winds are determined as the final step in the selection of a site for wind farm and location of turbines (Petersen, 2014).

New Zealand enjoys an uninterrupted flow of winds across the ocean creating a relatively steady succession of troughs and depressions that flow to the east of the country leading to blowing of predominantly westerly winds.

The passage of each of the weather systems across the country generates a pressure difference and hence the flow patterns of wind over the mountains. In other areas, the flow of wind continues and uninterrupted leading to relatively high speeds making such areas more suited for the development of wind energy (Petersen, 2014).

Most of the regions in New Zealand experience high average speeds of winds especially the coastal areas and the exposed tops of hills and ridgelines. Still, sites that were perceived to be economically unviable have gained variability through advancements in turbine technology.

The generation of energy through wind turbines in New Zealand does not vary with the variations in the speeds of wind. It is thus wrong to argue that wind farms and of less significance in the absence of winds mainly due to two important points:

  • There is a hydro-generation based on storage in the country that is able to provide a flexible complement to the changing wind generation(Rivkin, 2013)
  • The management of the supply of energy used in the generation of electricity is done on a yearly cycle as opposed to a daily or hourly cycle.

It is important to remember that the use of wind generation when available helps in the reduction of hydro generation thereby enhancing the storage of water in the hydro lakes. The stored water can be used as a source of energy can be tapped to supplement peaks in demand or even substitute wind on calm days.

To the tune of 5.6% of the total energy produced in New Zealand in 2016 was from wind and it was estimated that the electricity produced was large enough to power the country for 20 days (Thomsen, 2014).

Quarter ending

Generation (megawatt hour)

% of total generation

September 2017

542000

4.7

June 2017

539000

4.9

March 2017

590000

5.8

December 2016

623000

6.1

September 2016

588000

5.0

June 2016

579000

5.4

March 2016

523000

5.1

December 2015

673000

6.4

September 2015

586000

5.1

June 2015

620000

5.8

March 2015

460000

4.5

December 2014

656000

6.2

September 2014

542000

4.8

June 2014

491000

4.7

March 2014

501000

6.3

Wind Farms in New Zealand

Table 1: Quarterly Wind Generation (Crichton, 2017)

Total Operational Generating Capacity

Fuel Type

Operational capacity(MW)

Hydro

5363

Wind

690

Diesel

155

Biogas

37

Gas

1151

Coal

500

Geothermal

978

Table 2: Total Operational Generating Capacity (Jahangir, 2014)

The current number of farms in New Zealand stands at 19 operational farms having a combined installed capacity of 690 megawatts. The farms generate up to 6% of the total amount of energy generated in the country annually, a figure that serves about 300,000 kiwi homes every year (Nelson, 2013). The wind farms in the country range from a single small turbine that is located at Southbridge and has a generation capacity of 100KW to very large farms like Tararua farm that has 134 turbines generating 161MW of electricity. The largest farm built in one stage is the West Wind farm that is located near Wellington. The farm has a generating capacity of 142.6MW form its 622.3MW turbines. The amount of electricity generated by West Wind farm is estimated to be able to serve approximately 70,000 kiwi homes in a year (Ackermann, 2012). The power generated is equivalent to powering most of the homes located in Wellington City. Te Uku Wind Farm located in the Waikato has the 28 tallest turbines in New Zealand. These turbines are as tall as 130 m high from the ground level and have a generating capacity of 2.3MW. The amount of electricity generating by this wind farm can serve to the tune of 30,000 homes per year. 

Completed in 2014, the Miller Creek Wind Farm is among the most recent constructed wind farm in New Zealand. The farm is located in Wellington and has a generation capacity of 60MW of electricity, an amount of electricity that is suffice to power Porirua City for a year. The Flat Hill Wind Farm tends to be the most recently constructed wind farm with the completing done in 2015. The farm has 8 turbines, smaller in size with a generation capacity of 6.8 MW (Bennett, 2014).

Development of wind farms across New Zealand since 2015 has been influenced by a number of factors among theme limited growth in the demand of electricity and oversupply position. As a result of the closure thermal plants, there has been increased confidence of a projected growth in the demand and need to venture more into renewable energy sources aimed at lowering the levels of carbon emissions in line with the targets of climate change (Jahangir, 2014). A 2500MW wind generation has been consented that will range from small sites to 286 turbines. The 286 turbine plant will be Castle Hill Wind Farm that is expected to generate 858 MW. The largest of the proposed 286 turbines is at the Puketoi Wind Farm located in Wairarapa and will have each of the turbines being 160m tall and producing 6MW of electricity each.

Future of Wind Energy in New Zealand

Plans are underway to establish a wind farm that generates about 2500 MW and explorations are in progress in the country to identify sites for the new plants. Consent is released as soon as the developers feel and satisfied that the prevailing market conditions will provide the intended profit from the investment. A study was conducted to find out the economic benefits of wind farms in the country in which it was found out that wind farms contributed $65m to the gross domestic product as well as 679 FTE's to employment at the national levels. The study also predicted an increase in the generating capacity to 3500 MW by the year 2030 which would increase the benefits further to $81m to the GDP and 764 FTE’s national employment (Crichton, 2017). Wind farms will benefit a total of 1430 FTE’s and contribute $156m to the GDP when combined with indirect benefits from the expenditure of workers and their families.

Wind energy is on record as being one of the cheapest ways of generation of electricity. The wind farms in New Zealand do not receive any subsidies from the government prompting developers to venture into the construction of wind farm only after establishing that the farms will generate electricity at costs that are competitive to the other available forms of generation. Still, the developers consider the commercial returns they will enjoy from the investments (Crichton, 2017).

Cost certainty is one of the main benefits of wind energy. Wind farms enjoy free fuel (wind) once they have been constructed making that the cost of generation of wind in the future will not be affected in any way when the prices of fossil fuels or the cost of greenhouse gas emissions increase (Castro-Santos, 2016). Owners of the wind farms therefore only need to make arrangements for ongoing operation and maintenance costs of the wind farms. Securing long-term maintenance contracts have also been made possible in cases where the owner of the farm is not interested in undertaking the maintenance cost by himself.

On average, electricity costs retail at 29.2 cents per kilowatt-hour exclusive of the line charges. This is equivalent to $171 per megawatt hour. There is a variation in the estimated costs of electricity generated by wind (Jahangir, 2014). The variation results from numerous variables among them the speeds of winds, the costs of construction, capital costs, ability to maximize generations, exchange rates, wind turbines market conditions as well as the prices of the commodities.

Economic and Environmental Benefits of Wind Energy

The long-run marginal cost of electricity has been estimated to range between $90 and $105 MWh. Still, there is a 10% lower cost model having wind from $80+ MWh. Following the advancements in the technology and the accrued benefits from economies of scale, it is projected that the long-term marginal cost of electricity in New Zealand will be between $70 and $80MWh (Joshua, 2015).

The costs of electricity generated from turbines have greatly decreased and the decrease is expected to be even lower. The figure below illustrated the trend in the reduction of the costs of electricity from wind turbines on the global scale. 

Conclusion

Wind energy production is one of the cheapest forms of generation of electricity in New Zealand. The amount of electricity produced in New Zealand is significant enough and when properly utilized has the potential to facilitate the meeting of the climatic change targets as well as serve numerous homes across the country. Despite the challenges that come with the establishment and maintenance of the wind farms, wind energy remains a very important source of energy especially for countries that aim at reducing the levels of greenhouse gases emissions to the lowest levels possible. The geographical location of New Zealand places it a strategic position that is best suited for the generation of electricity and the range of turbines in the various wind farms are ideal in the generation of the required electricity.

It is recommended that more wind farms are established across the country to increase the energy production that would help in achieving the 3500MW target of 2030. Subsidies to be offered to the developers interested in establishing wind farms so as to lower the cost of the electricity generation. Subsidies will serve to attract more investors to put their resources in the wind energy sector. Government to establish its own wind farms hence shifting the focus of wind energy production from a commercial entity to a public service commodity-This will increase the levels of consumption of wind-generated electricity as a result of reduced costs. 

References

Ackermann, T. (2012). Wind Power in Power Systems. Sydney: John Wiley & Sons.

Bennett, E. (2014). Wind and Wildlife: Proceedings from the Conference on Wind Energy and Wildlife Impacts, October 2012, Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne: Springer,

Bond, S. (2013). Towers, Turbines and Transmission Lines: Impacts On Property Value. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Castro-Santos, L. (2016). Floating Offshore Wind Farms. London: Springer.

Cowan, J. P. (2016). The Effects of Sound on People. London: John Wiley & Sons.

Crichton, S. C. (2017). Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Communicated Disease. Sydney: Sydney University Press.

Hossain, J. (2014). Renewable Energy Integration: Challenges and Solutions. New Delhi: Springer Science & Business Media.

Jahangir, H. (2014). Large Scale Renewable Power Generation: Advances in Technologies for Generation, Transmission, and Storage. Toronto: Springer Science & Business Media.

Joshua, E. (2015). WIND POWER TECHNOLOGY, Second Edition. Salt Lake: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.

Landberg, L. (2015). Meteorology for Wind Energy: An Introduction. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Nelson, V. (2013). Wind Energy: Renewable Energy and the Environment, Second Edition. Kansas: CRC Press.

Ngo, C. (2012). Our Energy Future: Resources, Alternatives and the Environment. Paris: John Wiley & Sons.

Petersen, E. (2014). 1999 European Wind Energy Conference: Wind Energy for the Next Millennium. Chicago: Routledge.

Rivkin, D. A. (2013). Wind Turbine Systems. London: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Silk, L. (2013). Wind Energy. Oxford: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Thomsen, K. (2014). Offshore Wind: A Comprehensive Guide to Successful Offshore Wind Farm Installation. New York: Academic Press.

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