Really windy

New Zealand has kept up its reputation as one of the windiest places on the planet with gusts of 207 kilometres per hour (57.5 m/s) recorded at the aptly named Haunui ( "Strong Wind" ) wind farm of seven Enercon turbines. For a country which doesn't suffer from hurricanes or typhoons, the windy spring weather has been breaking records. Paul van Lieshout of New Zealand engineering firm DesignPower says his company has been monitoring one site with an hourly average of 151 kph -- or 41.9 m/s. "I've never seen anything like that as an hourly average," he says. Van Lieshout is confident that wind energy conversion equipment rated at 70 m/s can handle the conditions, since it takes a lot of extra energy to go from 41 to 70 m/s. "Even a design speed of 70 metres a second has a lot of safety factors. I expect them to survive." Strong winds have also delayed construction of the 32 MW Tararua wind farm near Palmerston North (Windpower Monthly, March 1998). On the 16 Vestas V47 towers erected so far, only four nacelles are in place.