October 2014 News
Someone asked me recently why we had chosen such an ‘inconsistent’ source of energy as wind energy to develop for the community. That was a great question and does help to highlight the key difference between fossil fuels and renewables. ‘Renewables’ is a term that covers a range of energy that can be captured in the environment: wind, solar, geothermal, bioenergy, hydro, tidal. Our environment is ultimately powered by the sun and based on weather systems, and weather, as we know, varies. So do biologicial systems (our ability to grow trees and other energy sources). So that means renewables provide a variable form of energy. The only real exception is geothermal power as it relies upon the heat at the centre of the earth. Even it varies but only over millions of years.
Variability of power output is commonly cited as the main disadvantage of renewable power while the major advantage is that the fuel is free – we just need to cover the cost of harnessing it. We believe there are two significant reasons for supporting a renewable electricity supply. First, while it is true that a constant (not variable) electricity supply can be provided by fossil fuels – think of a diesel generator working – a regular input of fossil fuels is always required. The disadvantage of such a system is that it has continuous on-going costs in terms of fuel. Fuel is costly, largely because we are now hitting the limits of economic extraction for oil and gas. The second, probably more dangerous cost is that it contributes to climate change in a way that threatens to reduce our economies to rubble.
Fortunately, NZ is blessed with abundant wind and solar exposure, in addition to the already developed hydro lake system and geothermal in the North so a more sustainable electricity network is a possibility. Renewables complement each other, and their ‘variability’ proves to be a positive attribute in a more decentralised system, to provide consistency of supply (and improving resilience). To do that effectively, they work through a network of electricial infrastructure. Our proposed wind development will be complemented by electricity produced locally at all the household solar and micro wind sites and by the electricity provided by the great lakes. Through these complentary renewables, consistency of supply can be secured. We have simply chosen wind energy to develop for the community because we have a good local site for community scale wind, wind turbine technology has been tried and tested and because it will ultimately benefit Blueskin Communities.
Most recent energy yield analysis, based on the wind data we have from our preferred site, shows an improved capacity factor potential (above 30%). Capacity Factor is the ratio of actual productivity against the theoretical maximum. This is good news for the business case we’re working on.
To stay in touch with developments, subscribe to our BRCT update (you will be taken to the subscribe page of our 'Blueskin Energy Project', as we are in the process of moving this across to this site) or pop into the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati. Telephone enquiries can be made on 4822048. We love to have visitors!