Kiwi turbine gets first customer

New Zealand wind engineer Geoff Henderson's fledgling local wind turbine manufacturing venture has gained home support, with the Christchurch City Council agreeing to become the first electricity customer for his commercial turbine. Henderson is looking to have the machine up and running by the start of 2002, producing around 3.3% of the council's annual electricity requirements. The 30 metre high turbine would have a rotor diameter of 33 metres and utilise technology developed by Henderson. The council noted that the proposed price of NZ$0.044/kWh was higher than its current predominantly hydro-generated electricity, but it recognised the benefits of supporting local industry and initiatives. The support is in the form of a ten year negotiated contract for the energy purchase from Henderson's company Windflow Engineering Ltd. Henderson has been keen to see local manufacturing of wind turbines, seeing strong local skills in fibreglass design and production from the country's boat-building experience as a major plus. He has been putting together a prospectus to float a company to support local manufacture and the council contract is likely to provide an impetus to his plans. He hopes to see up to 500 turbines operating in the area over the next decade.