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New Zealand

New Zealand

A call to arms

In a conference discussion of the uphill climb New Zealand wind developers face, Wind Torque's Geoff Henderson called upon the New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA) to "stop the charade and fight the real battle" against fossil fuels. He said the failure of government to impose carbon dioxide emission controls has meant the continuation of gas-fired generation projects that are likely to drive down the already low wholesale electricity price, produce an over supply and make wind energy increasingly uneconomical.

Henderson said NZWEA must lobby for government to honour its pledges to reduce CO2 emissions and encourage controls on fossil fuel generators. "Wind power will not automatically displace gas fired power if a low level carbon charge or tradeable carbon certificate scheme is introduced. However, action on climate change would undoubtedly accelerate the development of wind power," he said.

Garrad Hassan Pacific's Graham White compared New Zealand to Denmark, a country with a similar population and area and a far poorer wind resource, yet with a much larger installed wind farm capacity and several wind turbine manufacturers. The difference between the two countries, he said, is primarily in their national energy strategies, tax arrangements and co-ordinated development. "In most respects, the energy policies in New Zealand could be characterised by a hands-off approach," White said. He was critical of the current energy policy, which pitted ensuring the availability of energy services at the lowest cost against a requirement for sustainable development. Deregulation has allowed independent operators to access the national grid and broken up the single, government owned utility, but this has meant increased competition. In addition, new players have to compete with the current bulk price for electricity from hydro power.

White pointed out the irony that the country with one of the best wind resources in the world has to match the lowest generating cost in the world.

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