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New Zealand

New Zealand

FIRST KIWI WIND FARM, Running this month

Five Enercon wind turbines from Germany mark the start of work on New Zealand's first commercial wind farm at Wairarapa Electricity's Hau Nui site, not far from Martinborough. The project is on track for completion and full commissioning in early June, on time and within budget.

Five large wind turbines mark the start of work on New Zealand's first commercial wind farm at Wairarapa Electricity's Hau Nui site, 21 kilometres from Martinborough. Three of the Enercon E40 machines from Germany are already generating electricity for the company's local distribution network.

According to Jeff Kendrew, general manager of distribution for Wairarapa Electricity, the project is on track for completion and full commissioning in early June, on time and within budget. The erection of the 42 metre rolled steel towers, supplied by local Wellington firm Acme Engineering, has gone smoothly. A team of six Enercon engineers from Germany has been working on the installation, in co-operation with four Wairarapa Electricity electrical fitters who undertook training in Germany earlier in the year in preparation for the job. The New Zealanders will look after the long term maintenance and operations of the facility.

The NZ$9 million project will generate 6% of the region's electricity needs, or enough for 1500 homes. Hau Nui means "strong wind" and the site lives up to its name with average wind speeds of 35 kilometres an hour, putting it in the top 5% of New Zealand sites. The 500 kW turbines can operate in winds between 10 kph and 120 kph. The direct drive design has been favoured for its low maintenance requirements compared with conventional wind turbines with gear boxes which require oil changes. Wairarapa Electricity expects the wind plant to have a 20-year-plus working life. Strong public interest and local support for the project has seen the construction of a nearby visitor information area.

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