Wind power could reduce New Zealand bills, study finds

NEW ZEALAND: Bill payers will be up to NZ$390 ($295) better off per year with more wind power, according to a report from economic analysts.

NZ Windfarms first project is a 48.5 MW wind farm situated on the Tararua Ranges near Palmerston North

The study, by Infometrics, compared current government plans to double wind capacity to 8% of electricity by 2030 with various scenarios based on a 20% contribution from wind by that date.

According to the Windpower Monthly Windicator for October, New Zealand has a capacity of 615MW.

The country introduced an emissions trading scheme (ETS) last year, which has tipped the cost structure of electricity generation against thermal generation.

The results show annual benefits to each bill payer of:

  • NZ$60 if carbon dioxide is priced at NZ$50 per tonne — the figure planned under the current ETS.
  • NZ$90 if traded carbon emissions cost $100 per tonne.
  • NZ$390 if the wholesale gas price rises to NZ$17 per gigajoule (it is currently over NZ$9/GJ and forecast to increase) and carbon at NZ$50.
  • NZ$170 if the transport mix changes to include 800,000 electric vehicles and carbon costs NZ$50.

The current average electricity cost per person is about NZ$400 per year. The costs stem mainly from substituting costly fuels for free renewable resources and the savings from not having to buy carbon credits.