Global wind energy experts show NZ what it is missing

Monday 20 April 2009, 3:14PM
By New Zealand Wind Energy Association


“New Zealand is stuck in the doldrums, missing the opportunity to sail into a sustainable future powered by renewable wind energy,” says New Zealand Wind Energy Association Chief Executive Fraser Clark.

Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council and Fernando Caller, General Manager Asia Pacific of Iberdrola Renovables – the world’s leading wind energy generator and the fourth largest electricity company – are visiting New Zealand this week to address the 2009 New Zealand Wind Energy Conference, in Wellington on 21 and 22 April.

With wind energy playing an ever increasing, international role in responding to energy security and climate change concerns, the two experts are here to share their experience and to help New Zealand make better use of its world-leading wind resource.

“A good wind resource on its own is not enough,” says Mr Clark. “Ongoing policy uncertainty is contributing to New Zealand missing out on a greater share of the billions that are being invested in wind energy.” Last year alone US$47.5 billion (NZ$83 billion) was invested globally in new wind energy installations.

“We are also missing out on the benefits that investment in a free and renewable energy resource brings: certainty that electricity will remain affordable into the future, increased security of supply, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”

Mr Sawyer will highlight the need for policy certainty and the missed opportunity. “Governments have the power to fundamentally transform our energy system by opting for renewables. This would not only help the climate, but in the process also build new industries and create millions of new jobs for the 21 century,” Mr Sawyer noted recently. “But they are now paying the price for having wasted years in delay and indecisiveness.”

Mr Caller, whose company operates over 9,300 MW of wind energy generation (more than NZ’s total generation capacity from all sources), will tell the conference delegates an adequate regulatory framework is needed to support wind energy development, regardless of the quality of the wind resource. In New Zealand, this framework includes the Emissions Trading Scheme – still the subject of a Select Committee review after years of reiteration and debate.

“When two noted global experts tell us what we are missing out on, we should pay attention,” says Mr Clark. “The need for policy certainty is not lost on the New Zealand industry.”

“Last week’s announcement regarding New Zealand’s projected Kyoto liabilities points squarely to wind energy as an important part of New Zealand’s response to climate change. Energy sector emissions are rising and there are massive uncertainties around agricultural emissions and forestry offsets. Acting now to increase renewable wind generation is one way

that we can be absolutely certain of achieving long-term reductions in emissions.

The New Zealand wind energy industry continues to grow strongly, as evidenced by the high conference turn-out and this year’s 60% increase in installed capacity. “The Government must take steps now to ensure the benefits the industry can deliver are fully realised,” says Mr Clark.

“The proposed RMA amendments are a step in the right direction, but it is absolutely essential that the Emissions Trading Scheme and the entry of the electricity sector into the Scheme are not delayed.

“Care also needs to be taken to ensure the current plethora of electricity sector reviews do not create further uncertainty and deter investment.”

Recent resource consent decisions are a reminder that wind energy development must proceed in a sustainable manner. “The industry will discuss ways that it can take a stronger lead in this area,” concludes Mr Clark

Media are welcome to attend the conference.