Mercury has committed to construction of the first 33 of 60 consented wind turbines at Turitea near Palmerston North, representing a key milestone in New Zealand’s renewable energy development.
Mercury’s Chief Executive Fraser Whineray says current market conditions indicate that new renewable energy capacity is required for New Zealand, and Mercury is pleased to step forward with a wind farm development it has been working towards for 15 years.
The Turitea wind farm will generate 470 GWh annually on average. When generation connects to the national grid at Linton, with commissioning expected to begin from late 2020, Turitea will be New Zealand’s third largest wind farm. It will be the first large-scale generation addition to New Zealand’s capacity since 2014.
“The estimated $256 million project supports the opening up of a further $750 million investment opportunity in wind energy development,” Whineray said.
Transmission and other infrastructure from this project is scaled to support the development of the remaining 27 turbines at Turitea and on the Puketoi range to the east, where Mercury has consents to construct a 53-turbine wind farm.
Mercury has contracted with Vestas-New Zealand Wind Technology Limited, a local subsidiary of Vestas Wind Systems A/S, to construct and maintain the Turitea wind farm.
On-site construction is planned to start around August 2019, and the overall cost for the project is estimated to be $256 million. This will be funded from existing debt facilities.
Mercury committed to a strategy of adding wind generation to its portfolio of renewable generation assets 15 years ago, Whineray said.
“With this announcement, Mercury has realised the ‘awesome foursome’ of renewables — hydro, geothermal, solar and wind — that enhance our contribution to New Zealand’s green energy future,” Whineray said. “The Turitea wind farm will contribute to New Zealand’s sustainable, low emissions future, as well as to our country’s energy freedom by making more renewable, kiwi-made electricity available for homes, businesses and vehicles around the country.”
Mercury already generates about 6,800 GWh of renewable electricity annually, about 16% of New Zealand’s total electricity generation, from its hydro and geothermal stations located in the central North Island, close to areas of high demand and growth.
It operates solar business Mercury Solar and has a 60-kWp solar array at its Penrose R&D center. Mercury also owns 19.99% of Tilt Renewables, which operates and develops wind farms in New Zealand and Australia.