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Windfarm project runs out of puff

Windfarms produce renewable energy. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

JORDAN BOND

Genesis Energy has sat on a granted resource consent for what would be the biggest windfarm in New Zealand for the past eight years – and has no plans to build it, according to media reports last week.

The Castle Hill windfarm, consented for a site about 20km northeast of Masterton, could double Genesis Energy’s annual renewable electricity generation.

The annual generation of the farm would be the equivalent of the power generated by at least 850,000 tonnes of coal.

The windfarm was approved in 2013 by the Environment Court. The resource consent expires in 2023, with no construction planned.

Genesis said it had other renewable energy projects that it was building and more in the pipeline.

Genesis, in its original resource consent application, said “the wind resource across the site arguably represents one of the best wind energy resources in the world for wind energy generation”.

The consent allowed for 286 turbines that could generate up to 860 megawatts of electricity – from 1500 to 3000 gigawatt hours a year – enough to power about 370,000 homes. It would easily be the largest windfarm in New Zealand.

A spokesperson for Genesis Energy said: “No construction is currently planned at Castle Hill. We are in late stage negotiations on a number of new renewable projects as part of our Future-gen programme which will enable the development of 2650GWh pa of new renewable generation by 2030.”

In a submission to the government from late 2019 or early 2020, Genesis hinted at why Castle Hill hasn’t been built.

“Transmission costs can be a major barrier to commissioning new generation infrastructure, such as the Castle Hill windfarm for which we currently hold resource consent,” the submission said. – rnz.co.nz

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