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New Zealand

New Zealand

Scanpower consent to build wind farm

New Zealand energy company Scanpower has gained a victory of sorts with the granting of a resource consent to develop a 10 MW wind farm of 20 turbines just north of the Manawatu Gorge. The consent comes at a time of great uncertainty for New Zealand's electricity market, with the distribution and production sectors being separated by legislation. But Jeff Farnworth of Scanpower says the company is still pleased to have gained the permission, seeing it as adding value to the site. The consent, granted by the Tararua District Council, lasts for five years, and Farnworth is "pretty positive" the development will get underway, though not in the near future. Scanpower challenged successfully against conditions initially sought by the council, such as the use of non-reflective blades. The company also gained the option of choosing between tubular or lattice towers -- an important point, Farnworth says, which broadens the turbine supplier options. He expects some form of joint venture will be developing the project, intended to provide electricity to some 5000 houses in the area. Wind energy development has been economically marginal in the New Zealand market and -- as demonstrated by Scanpower's hesitancy to get too excited -- the power industry reforms are likely to slow future growth despite the strength of the country's natural resource. New Zealand Wind Energy Association estimates indicate wind power could contribute to about 30% of the country's electrical needs.

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