March/April 2016 News
“Give it back” might have been the cry from Brooklyn residents (Brooklyn is a Wellington suburb) when the Brooklyn turbine was dismantled last December. Meridian had asked residents if they still wanted a turbine. An overwhelming 85% of respondents said they did. This isn’t surprising, given that it had been there since 1993 and its likeness features in street and shop tiles, on flags and other paraphernalia in the suburb. The replacement Enercon E44 turbine is larger and will generate more electricity, and remain at the heart of the community.
The Brooklyn installation is just the latest small wind development. Last year also Pioneer Generation commissioned the Flat Hill wind farm at Bluff, which is comprised of eight wind turbines. Also in Bluff, Te Rau Aroha Marae has just installed a small wind turbine with the help of Awarua Synergy to power the marae and establish a more resilient energy system for this important community institution. Meanwhile we share information with two other community organisations in the Wellington region who aim to do as we’ve done in Blueskin and work on developing community wind. Last year we were visited by a team from the Parihaka community in Taranaki who have begun wind testing and who aim also to build a community wind resource as part of their efforts to address climate change and build a resilient community as well.
All of this community interest in small scale and community wind signifies changes that are underway throughout the whole electricity system. Small scale wind incrementally increasing the renewable component of the national network, along with an increase in household solar and advances in battery technology aligned with electric cars: all of this points to greater decentralisation and the need for different generation inputs to spread variable power supply across a wide area and provide security of supply. In other words, the status quo is changing because it is being pushed and the technology is now there to make it all possible.
Wind power infrastructure once built, costs next to nothing to run. This is because the ‘fuel’ (wind) is free and apart from regular maintenance there’s little additional cost. Coal and gas fired electricity generators in contrast have ongoing and unpredictable fuel costs. We believe the future for New Zealand is in harnessing our renewable potential in low impact developments such as our proposed Blueskin wind development.
So by mid to late April, the Brooklyn wind turbine will be commissioned and generating electricity again. Meanwhile Blueskin Energy Ltd’s Resource Consent application to build three wind turbines on Porteous Hill is in process. We’re working to build a small local wind farm to reduce our emissions, strengthen the energy and financial independence for this and future Blueskin generations, build security of supply, and show just what dedicated community effort can achieve while making a positive difference. We anticipate the hearing will take place in May.
To keep an eye on things, check out our Blueskin Energy website: http://www.blueskinenergy.co.nz/ . There is also information about this project on the BRCT website (www.brct.org.nz), and you can find us on Facebook as Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust, on Twitter as @BlueskinPower and you can call 03 4822249 or call in to visit and find out more about any of our work.