The New Zealand Wind Energy Association was launched at the end of February with an enthusiastic meeting that saw double the numbers expected to attend. The association is industry based, with nine of the main local wind energy players taking an active role: Garrad Hassan Pacific, Wind Torque, The Project Company, Merrill International, Link Technology International, TransAlta, ECNZ (the New Zealand Utility), Royds Consulting and DesignPower. These electricity companies, wind power consultants, researchers and planning consultants are confident of the future of wind energy in New Zealand. Last year the country saw the commissioning of its first commercial wind farm, the 3.5 MW Hau Nui operation of German Enercon turbines (Windpower Monthly, December 1996) and another 170 MW of wind plants are in the planning process. "About ten or twelve power companies have now put up anemometers to measure wind speed," notes Paul van Lieshout of the new association, "In addition, several developers are expected to apply for resource consents to develop wind farms within the next few years. Wind energy could be taking off in a year." According to the association, there is a consensus in the international wind industry that New Zealand is one of only two new international markets that hold promise for the production of a large amount of wind generated electricity. The association aims to help this along by raising the profile of wind energy and related matters, encouraging research, and reaching influential decision makers. Its launch saw strong support from the Minister of Energy, the Hon Max Bradford. Over 120 people attended the function. Van Lieshout sees the occasion as a positive start. The association is planning a day long seminar later in the year to bring together researchers, designers, consultants and others with potential involvement in the wind energy field. In the meantime, members are working on a variety of issues, including questions of the role of wind energy in meeting the country's carbon dioxide reduction requirements and depreciation and transmission issues related to wind farm development.
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