New Zealand Company Wants to Produce Wind Turbines

A wind turbine manufacturer is holding a series of meetings this month to raise A$3 million for its production.

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, NZ, 2001-04-12 <> Windflow Technology Ltd of Christchurch will hold meetings in Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington to solicit investors for the company’s Windflow 500 turbine, which it claims has a unique design which combines two technologies to reduce fatigue loads and machine weight. The first unit is expected to operate near Christchurch by next year. “New Zealand and Australia are ripe for investment in wind-turbine generated electricity, and both countries have recently made some important policy changes that pave the way for sustainable wind power,” says director Geoff Henderson. The $3 million will be used to design and build the first turbine, with a second stage to produce at least six turbines to market the Windflow and to promote further sales. Windflow is the only New Zealand company with plans to manufacture turbines in the country, claims Henderson. The output from the first unit will be fed into the country’s electricity grid, where current wholesale prices are 4c/kWh. The company assumes that the long-term price will be 5.8c/kWh for the first unit and 6c/kWh for the later machines. “As well as contributing towards the government’s National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, this venture will add to the knowledge economy by establishing New Zealand-based manufacturing of this state-of-the-art design,” explains Henderson. He says the venture has the backing of Christchurch City Council as part of its overall sustainable city program. “Harnessing New Zealand’s abundance of wind and converting it to a sustainable source of energy makes complete sense when we look at the benefits,” he adds. “New Zealand’s existing hydro electricity system would be complemented by investment in wind power.” Installing wind turbines will conserve lake water and take pressure off the country’s lake systems, and increase overall electricity generation through periods of low rainfall such as the 1992 shortage. The abundance of wind makes New Zealand a prime site for wind production. “New Zealanders are ready for wind power,” says Henderson. “As the 1994 Morgan Research opinion survey demonstrated, an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders are convinced of the benefits of wind power and want to see its development.” A 1987 report for the Energy Research & Development Committee found that New Zealand is one of the most favourable parts of the world for large-scale introduction of wind energy. The circumpolar winds blow unchecked until they reach the country, and the airstream is further accelerated by mountain ranges. “Electricity demand is currently increasing by about 70 MW annually and, to date, our electricity requirements have been met mainly by a mix of hydro and fossil-fuelled power stations,” says Henderson. “In recent years, the fossil-fuelled portion has increased greatly. However, not only are sites for further hydro dams limited by technological and ecological constraints, but the supply of fossil fuels is also limited and likely to become increasingly unpredictable.” Christchurch Council has signed a ten year contract to buy output from the first turbine, which will be installed near Gebbies Pass in the Port Hills. Orion New Zealand has offered a ten year network connection which includes the buy-back of power by Orion in peak demand periods. Windflow says it could build 400 turbines a year and Henderson predicts revenue of $35 million with 350 jobs. “Wind power is perfect for New Zealand,” he adds. “We have sites here which would provide two to three times more energy than good sites in Europe and North America. We also have the design and manufacturing capability and we should be capitalising on both by establishing a world-class local manufacturing industry.” New Zealand currently supports two wind farms: one in Palmerston North and another in Martinborough. The Gebbies Pass site could accommodate at least ten windmills, while Banks Peninsula is another attractive site with the potential for several hundred windmills. The Windflow unit is a 500 kW two-bladed turbine that combines a patented torque limiting gearbox system of power control with a pitch regulated two-bladed teetering rotor. The combination provide major reductions in fatigue loads and reductions of 20 to 50 percent in weight and cost compared with three bladed turbines, he claims.

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