Newsflash: Mill Creek Wind Farm approved, almost all intact – just 2 turbines short of the full picnic. We blogged about it before, back in June last year when it was announced and publicly notified – and we thought that the residents of Ohariu Valley might put up a bigger stink than the residents of nearby Makara did when they were confronted with Project West Wind. There’s certainly a hefty list of Conditions, and a very thorough report of all the issues discussed (200-odd pages all up), but it seems to have gone through, as it should, with due consideration of the various concerns, and a sensible final decision. The 29 turbines concerned will give a power equivalent at full load of 35,000 homes, which together with the nearby 62 turbines at Project West Wind windfarm (in Makara), will have the potential to power around 100,000 homes – ie a good portion of Wellington.
When the wind blows.
Which is often.
So: good then.
The turbines are about 111m tall (taller than the BNZ/State building in downtown Welly), and will be Siemens 2.3-82 VS units, as pictured here.
Seeing as we’re an urban, architecture and design blog, and I think its a fantastic move and am very glad to hear its going ahead, perhaps then for those who are interested: a bit on the actual design of the turbines themselves. The Siemens unit proposed (shown above) is, as their website says, a simple, rugged, and robust design of turbine; with 3 blades that self feather as most of these modern systems do. It’s a good system – nothing too fancy in design terms, unlike say the Vestas which have a little more of the Scandinavian design flair, or the Enercon. There’s an Enercon turbine from the mid-90s that has always taken my fancy, as it features a viewing platform near the top.
Damn fine view from there – and the blades move so relatively slowly at that point. Wouldn’t like the climb up there mind. Perhaps they’d install a lift, just for visitors. Enercon are also producing the world’s biggest turbine, the E126, which would almost dwarf these Siemens units we have.
And then there is the NZ produced 2-bladed version from Windflow Technology, which is still having a hard time getting accepted in NZ, despite its inherent advantages in lower costs (less blades) and almost as high wind efficiency (each extra blade adds weight, but does not contribute as much power). Come on Meridian, Gebbies Pass was a long time ago – you can trust these guys now!
Of course, at the actual wing tip on any of these turbines, the wings fair race around, and in some countries, kill passing birds. If they’re those scabby pigeons in Te Aro Park, then I’m more than happy. Of course, here we have our wonderful evolutionary dead-end of avian wild-life who have developed the ability to be too bloody lazy to fly, and so are in precisely no danger at all of ever getting killed by a blade from one of these. Still, its a condition of the Consent though (Condition 57: Avifauna monitoring). And the protection of Fish too (Schedule 6: Fish Passage, and Schedule 8: Monitoring of Flocculated sediment retention ponds), for which we thoroughly approve. Woo hoo!
Seems like a fairly symbiotic relationship then: useless scrubby land nearby, too windy for human habitation on the hill-tops, a need for more wildlife reserves for our endangered flightless birds – it must be the perfect chance for Meridian to score some badly needed good PR brownie points by offering to plant a native forest reserve around these super-sized turbines.
Before I go, a link here to the Creative Freedom people, who are getting very up in arms over a proposed bill in Parliament over Copyright Laws. And rightly so too. Silly law, badly written. Don’t pass it Mr Key (a frequent reader of this blog, I’m sure). There’s enough silliness in the world, and more than enough silly law. We don’t need any more.