Construction of the first of 28 wind turbines is underway at the Te Uku wind farm, near Raglan.
The Te Uku wind farm is a joint alliance between Meridian Energy and community-trust owned electricity lines company, WEL Networks. At maximum capacity, the wind farm will generate 64.4MWs of electricity, enough to power around 30,000 average New Zealand homes.
The turbines will be constructed with the help of a 600 tonne crane, the largest wheeled crane ever seen in New Zealand.
Te Uku wind farm Project Manager, Robert Batters, says each wind turbine takes around two to three days to construct.
“The process takes place in three main steps. The first component assembled is the base tower section. Then the remaining two tower sections, nacelle and hub are lifted into place.
“Finally, each of the three turbine blades is put in place to complete the process,” explains Mr. Batters.
Mr Batters says the first wind turbine is planned to be generating power before Christmas and all 28 turbines will be generating power by March 2011.
The 600 tonne crane being used to construct the turbines was shipped to New Zealand from Denmark by the KR Wind/NZ Crane Group Alliance especially for the job. It arrived at the wind farm site in mid-October, along with 28 truckloads of associated crane parts. Its boom can be extended to 160 metres, but is configured to 102 metres for the Te Uku turbines.
“Despite its size, the crane only has a width of three metres. This meant we could construct the 26 kilometres of roads on the wind farm site to an absolute minimum width, minimising the environmental footprint on the rural landscape,” says Mr Batters.
The 600 tonne crane is being assisted by a 300 tonne crane and two 100 tonne cranes to complete the turbine erection process.
The Te Uku turbines were manufactured at two sites – the towers in Korea and the actual turbine componentry by Siemens in Denmark.
This is the second Meridian Energy wind farm using Siemens turbine components – the first being the West Wind wind farm at Makara near Wellington.
The turbine towers and components began arriving at the Port of Auckland in September and are progressively being transported to the Te Uku wind farm site. The current plan is for the last of the turbine components to be transported to the wind farm site by mid-December.
Turbine Facts and Figures:
About Meridian Energy
Meridian is New Zealand’s largest electricity generator and currently owns and operates nine hydro stations and three wind farms within New Zealand, and one wind farm in Australia
Internationally, Meridian has operations in Sydney Australia and San Francisco California. Meridian recently announced the establishment of a joint venture with Australian energy company AGL to build what will be the southern hemisphere's biggest wind farm in southwest Victoria The 420MW Macarthur wind farm is due for completion in 2013.
Meridian retails electricity to around 188,000 customers throughout New Zealand, which includes households, farms and businesses. It also provides electricity to New Zealand’s single largest electricity user, the Rio Tinto Alcan New Zealand Limited aluminium smelter in Bluff.
Meridian invests strongly in renewable energy development both in New Zealand and offshore and has recently commenced construction on the Te Uku wind farm, in Hamilton, New Zealand.