New Zealand

New Zealand

Plans for a home grown wind turbine -- Teetering prospect

A prospectus aimed at raising NZ$3 million to establish local manufacturing of wind turbines in the 500 kW to 1 MW range in New Zealand was being planned for release last month. Behind the prospectus is long time wind energy proponent and engineer Geoff Henderson, who is launching it on the strength of indications from the new government that it will be pursuing a wind friendly energy policy. The exceptionally weak New Zealand dollar also provides good opportunities for the export market, says Henderson.

He believes the relative availability of cheap New Zealand gas from the Maui fields has created an artificially low price in the national electricity market -- the country has seen gas burned while water has been spilled from hydro lakes. But the gas resource is set to run down from 2007, virtually disappearing within five years of that.

A window of opportunity of three to five years is open to the wind industry to develop, test and gain a track record in turbine manufacture, says Henderson, who is determined to make use of the opening. Even the burgeoning Australian market is seen as an opportunity, rather than as a threat, with Henderson confident that "ANZAC manufacturing" has obvious potential.

The prospectus is based on Henderson's own patented two-blade teetering hub design. He believes the 50-70% lighter components offer major advantages over traditional European designs, without compromising reliability. In particular such a flexible machine is considered more able to withstand the turbulent windy conditions typical for New Zealand. The design has been optimised for New Zealand's high wind conditions and holds promise for achieving significant economies, not only at the 500 kW scale but also at 1000 kW and above," says Henderson.

His company, Wind Torque Ltd, will provide intellectual property and wind farm development rights to a new venture, Windflow Engineering Ltd, set up for machine development. Windflow is likely to make use of a wind site owned by another Henderson company, Aeolian Property Co, in the Tararua Ranges.

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