New Zealand’s energy demands are increasing, and the government has set a renewable electricity generation target of 90% by 2025 and 100% by 2030.
The Climate Change Commission has modelled that the increase in wind generation needed to meet the renewables target will require 20 to 30 new wind farms at an annual growth rate of over 180 MW. That’s two new wind farms each year. The Mt Cass Wind Farm is a positive contribution to that goal. It will add resilience to the South Island’s electricity supply and potentially offset around 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse CO2 emissions per year.
The wind farm will be located on Mt Cass, Waipara, on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand.
The Mt Cass Wind Farm will be visible from the areas around Mt Cass including along State Highway 1 , Mt Cass Road and Waipara Flat Road. You will also be able to see parts of it from Amberley.
Once the wind farm construction is complete, we will develop a 6km extension to the existing Mt Cass walking track, creating a 13km loop track. The walking track will allow visitors to walk up to several wind turbines.
We keep our website updated with any news or announcements. As we get closer to the construction stage, we will host community meetings in the area to update locals.
We also send out regular email newsletters so join our mailing list.
The maximum generation output of the wind farm is 94.6 MW.
Like most generated energy in New Zealand, the electricity created by the wind farm will travel, via transmission lines, to the National Grid.
The National Grid is owned and operated by Transpower. They transport electricity around the country to one of 27 regional distribution networks (like MainPower) who deliver it to homes and businesses.
MainPower has a small retail business called Kākāriki Power. Right now, Kākāriki Power is focused on working with medium and large commercial and industrial customers. It is not currently supplying residential connections. However, this may be something it can offer in the future.
Wind farms in New Zealand collectively generate enough energy to currently power around 300,000 homes a year – that’s about 6% of New Zealand’s total energy consumption.
The agreement between Rio Tinto and Meridian Energy to keep the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter operating until at least 31 December 2024 gives us certainty about how the eventual closure will impact the generation industry and the Mt Cass Wind Farm.
It is forecast that any surplus electricity from the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter closure will be absorbed by general demand growth (i.e. government sustainability targets like the uptake of electric cars and electrification of coal boilers) along with new industry in Southland developed over the next three years. This provides a strong market outlook for the generated energy from Mt Cass Wind Farm.
Not right now, but the provision for future batteries has been designed into the switchyard with a spare connection point.
The turbines we are using are designed to minimise any noise and fully comply with the legislated New Zealand standards. The prevailing wind in the area from the north-west, which would carry sound out to sea, and the turbines will be located on top a 400-500m high ridge, away from residential areas.
Wind turbines make a mild ‘swooshing’ sound and you will need to be near a turbine to hear it. When the wind is blowing, it is unlikely you will hear anything over the sound of the wind.
We’ve been working with the Department of Conservation, Hurunui District Council and other stakeholders to make sure we protect wildlife and plants in the area.
The project includes around $6 million of investment into environmental initiatives at the site. This will cover extensive monitoring and reporting on the area’s ecology, relocation of lizards from the wind farm footprint, a 6km extension of the existing Mt Cass walking track and the creation of 127 hectares of protected land, including predator-free areas of native shrub and forest. In addition, a hectare of native forest will be planted (to offset the same area of land used for the turbine platforms and roading).
Mt Cass Wind Farm will be establishing a ‘performance bond’ and fund with the Hurunui District Council to enable the ecological workstreams to be carried out beyond the lifespan of the wind farm.
Once construction is underway, we anticipate it will take approximately 18-24 months to complete.
We have not yet confirmed the contractors responsible for all areas of the construction and commissioning. We estimate the wind farm construction phase will provide 100 jobs and we will be using local contractors as much as possible.
There will be a small increase in traffic to the site via Mt Cass Road. The traffic will be mostly construction vehicles, trucks carrying turbine components, water and concrete-making materials. The larger turbine components will mostly be transported to the site at night to minimise local disruption.
Local towns may notice an increase in foot traffic as workers use services in the area.
The wind farm will include 22 turbines.
Turbines are predominantly made up of steel (71-79% of total mass). Fibreglass, resin or plastic account for another 11-16% of the total mass, and cast iron, copper and aluminium make up the rest.
From the ground to the tip, the turbines will be 136.5 metres tall. The tower is 76.5 metres in height from the ground to the nacelle, which contains the hub and generator (the turbine is direct drive so there is no gearbox in this model).
The turbines will start operating (cut in) at 10.8km per hour and stop working during extreme winds of over 122.4km per hour (cut out).
Turbine blades move at 6.5 to 13.4 rpm in a clockwise direction.
The lifespan of the turbines is 30 years. Once the turbines have reached the end of life, they can be replaced with new models to ensure the wind farm site stays operational.
90% of a turbine’s components can currently be recycled, with ongoing research expected to increase this percentage.
If a decision was made not to re-power the wind farm, the turbines would be removed and the site restored to its natural state. You can find out more about the wind turbines here.