There are positive signs for the wind industry in the latest New Zealand Energy outlook, with capacity forecast to more than double over the next 18 years.
However the estimate undershoots the amount of wind farms that will be built according to Eric Pyle, CEO of the Wind Energy Association.
The outlook, published on thursday by the Ministry of Economic Development, estimates that wind farm capacity will increase from the current 622MW, to around 1,410MW and produce close to 10% of the country’s electricity by 2030.
“That’s great news for New Zealanders, as wind generated electricity keeps power bills down and helps with hydro lake levels,” says Eric Pyle. “But our analysis suggests that wind will be even more important than that, producing 20% of our electricity by then.”
According to Pyle, the outlook doesn’t take into account the lowering costs of wind power. “Investigation of wind farms in New Zealand shows that recent installations are already among the lowest cost form of new generation, and international studies reveal that the cost of wind is continuing to fall.”
“We are also a relatively young industry and increasing our understanding of how to make the most of our abundant wind resource,” he said. “We are developing better wind farms that can generate even cheaper renewable electricity.”
Using historical figures for wind farm costs does not reflect the reality of recent downwards trends, including operating and maintenance costs, states Eric Pyle. Wind turbines are now very reliable, something that has improved over the last ten years.
“We look forward to future versions of the Energy Outlook presenting wind in an even more favourable light as officials incorporate more up to date views on the true costs of wind generation.”