New Zealand’s state-owned electricity generator and retailer Meridian Energy is seeking resource consent to develop a wind farm on the north side of the Manawatu Gorge.Manawatu Gorge, New Zealand – May 22, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The proposed wind farm, called Te Apiti (after the Manawatu Gorge), will be located on 1150 hectares of farm land beside Saddle Road between Ashhurst and Woodville. Te Apiti is expected to have 55 wind turbines with a total capacity of between 82.5 MW and 96.25 MW. It would be the country’s most productive wind farm, generating enough electricity for 32,300 homes. Meridian Chief Executive Keith Turner says wind power development is critical for the security of New Zealand’s energy supply. “New Zealand’s economy depends on a reliable power supply and wind farms will have a key role in providing that reliability,” said Turner. “With declining gas reserves and the risk of dry winters, we see development of Te Apiti as a small but significant step in meeting future electricity demand.” Te Apiti will help meet New Zealand’s commitment to reducing these emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. Turner said studies show it to be an excellent location for a wind farm, with estimated annual production time during the year of 45 percent; well above the world average of 23 percent for wind farms. “There are also many other sites around New Zealand suitable for wind farms. Te Apiti is the first of what is likely to be several such proposals by Meridian Energy,” he said. While Meridian is yet to select a turbine manufacturer, the project will be using megawatt-class machines. Part of the Te Apiti site already has resource consent for 20 wind turbines. Meridian will apply to the Tararua District Council and the Manawatu Wanganui Regional Council for resource consent to develop the rest of the site. If resource consents are granted this year, construction could begin in early 2004, with the first turbine producing power in late 2004. Full production capacity would be achieved by early 2005.