In a company newsletter, Geoff Henderson, chief executive of Windflow Technology, said the market for wind turbines in New Zealand was nearly exhausted in terms of availability and suitability of sites. "Wind-farm activity overall is stagnant and decreasing with several very large farms still in the consenting process. Those that are consented are not being built as overall electricity demand is down," he said.
The downbeat market assessment came not long after the government had launched a national policy statement (NPS) on renewable electricity, aimed at driving forward the permitting process for wind farms.
The NPS, which came into effect on 13 May, is a new piece of legislation under the Resource Management Act. It requires decisionmakers to consider the development, operation, maintenance and upgrading of all renewable generation, including wind farms, as a matter of national significance from that date.
Environment minister Dr Nick Smith said the NPS was intended to ensure that the benefits of renewable generation were appropriately recognised and weighted in the act's permitting and consenting processes. "The result will be more consistent and pragmatic rules that will encourage investment in renewable energy," he said.
But he added that the NPS did not give wind farms or other renewable-energy projects a "free ride" through the consenting process and new wind projects would need to continue to demonstrate their existing high levels of environmental performance.
Fraser Clark, NZWEA chief executive, said the new NPS would help provide more balance in permitting decisions that could be held up by local opposition. "The need to locate wind farms in elevated and exposed windy places means that some local effects are unavoidable and difficult to mitigate," he said.