New Zealand - Wind farm developer's big switch

NZ Windfarms to transform from a small-scale wind farm developer to a big player on New Zealand's renewable power scene

Add some Kiwi-made engineering brains to the global push for renewable energy sources and within two years there's a $100 million utility company ready to list on the main board of the stock exchange. Shareholders of NZ Windfarms are meeting in Christchurch tomorrow to approve a plan to transform their company from a small-scale wind farm developer to a big player on New Zealand's renewable power scene.

The growth story of NZ Windfarms is remarkable. It started life as a spin-off of Windflow Technology - the brain child of engineer Geoff Henderson - to develop and build a unique twin-bladed wind turbine. Stage one of Windfarm's $80 million wind farm at Te Rere Hau - Maori for "fierce wind" - near Palmerston North was completed late last year. This month it raised $75 million of new capital, which will help pay for the next batch of its NZ-built turbines. These machines are smaller and less obtrusive than some of the giant models favoured by other developers. Company chief executive Chris Freear says using these smaller machines is an important part of its different take on wind power.

"Our approach to what wind generation should look like is certainly different to what some of the main players in the space have - particularly Trustpower and Meridian. “Our whole business philosophy is one of building what's called 'distributed generation' - smaller scale generation that connects into the local networks and supplies power to the local communities," says Freear. "It's a smaller-sized farm - we'll have more of them and they'll be peppered throughout the country.

Using smaller machines also should mean the whole farm is much cheaper to build, with less need for new roads and power lines. Other wind farm builders - think here of state-owned Meridian's plans for turbines up to 125 metres high at its new Makara site - are taking a "power station" approach.
NZ Windfarms
Edited by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
wind energy, wind farm, renewable energy, wind power, wind turbine, rotorblade, offshore, onshore

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