Today we went to Te Uku wind generation site for a tour.
Te Uku is near Raglan (West coast) in the North Island of New Zealand, about thirty kilometres from Hamilton. Project Te Uku is a 64MW generation site built by Meridian Energy and WELNetworks Limited. After spending a few years in the energy industry I have quite an interest in renewable generation and in particular like wind farms, so enjoyed the chance to visit another one.
So there are 28 Siemens 2.3MW turbines on 80 metre towers with 45 metre blades. That puts them at quite a bit bigger than the first wind farm I went to (and worked at) which was 1.65MW NEG Micon turbines on 70 metre towers with 35 metre blades. The Siemens nacelles are round, long and thin. The blades have a very unique curvature to them which I was quite interested in seeing in action after seeing them in photos.
Like many other wind generation sites this one is working farm land with both sheep and cattle grazing amongst the turbines. There are wetlands and a lot of plants were added as part of the project (something like forty thousand plants).
Te Uku was not particularly windy today which made it hard to hear the blade woosh at all even standing directly under a turbine. The blades rotate at 16rpm so they are quite a slow graceful looking turbine.
Eight of the turbines have aviation lights on top which looked like satellite dishes from a distance. The tails of the nacelles have what look like plane fins on them, a top of which sit the anemometer and wind vane.
Although Te Uku is small compared to some of the other sites I have been to, it is no mean feat to build. I think they said there were 26 km of roads built on the site over 8 months, 18m wide concrete foundations were made on site (lucky one of the farmers owns a quarry to supply the two hundred tonnes of aggregate required), and over eight hundred people worked there during the build (just over half were local I believe). So the project certainly put a bit of money into the local economy.
The bus tour was $5 per person and 100% of that was pooled together for the local schools which is a nice way for us “tourists” to say thanks to the locals for having us for the day. There was a community gala at the domain in Raglan with some impressive kites being flown. It was great to catch up with some of my previous colleagues of Meridian Energy. We had a lovely lunch in Raglan before heading home.