The aim of this web site is to provide information on the Tararua Wind Farm. You will also find general wind farm information in the FAQ section and latest updates in the News section.
The wind farm is situated on the Tararua Ranges just south of the Manawatu Gorge. The site is located on approximately 700 hectares of private land on a ridge of rolling hills which continues to be used for sheep and beef farming. It is approximately 4 kilometres south-west of Ashhurst, 5 kilometres west of Woodville, 11 kilometres east of Palmerston North and 10 kilometres north-west of Pahiatua. This area of the Tararua Ranges is recognised as one of the best sites for a wind farm in New Zealand and ranks with the best sites in the world. The average wind speed on the site is approximately 35 kilometres per hour with the wind speed above the minimum operating wind speed of the turbine for more than 85% of the time.
The site hosts 103 Vestas V47 660kW wind turbines with a generating capacity of 67.98 megawatts. Development of the site was initially completed in two stages ( TWF1 & TWF2) with consents granted in 1997. The initial construction of 31.7 megawatts utilised 48 V47 660Kw wind turbines with the output feed into the local network. It provides the sufficient electricity to supply 15,000 typical New Zealand homes. Each turbine is mounted on a steel lattice tower, similar to a power pylon. Each turbine will have three blades with each blade having a length of 23.5 meters. The blades have full feathering ability and will adjust themselves to maintain a relativity constant speed. The turbine is also able to turn itself on the tower to capture winds from different directions. The output from each turbine is taken by underground cable to a substation and switching yard in the middle of the site. From there the electricity is taken by overhead line to the local network. The Operation and Maintenance building houses the switchyard, equipment and spares required for the ongoing maintenance of the wind farm.
The owner added a third stage being 33 Vestas V90 3MW turbines to the project in September 2007. The total installed capacity is now 160MW.
The public road access was not suitable for transporting equipment to the site. A new private access road to the site was constructed from Centre and Back Road and via the Jackson's farm to Hall Block Road. Fencing and access control gates are in place for security and safety. The wind farm co-exists with the existing farming operations and public access is restricted. A public information and viewing area is in place at the Ashhurst Domain just prior to crossing the Manawatu River and entering the Manawatu Gorge from the Palmerston North City side.
The environmental effects of the wind farm were considered to be minor. To capture the wind effectively the wind turbines need to be sited on the ridge lines where they are visible. However the use of lattice towers and correct colour selection minimises the impact on the landscape. A number of visual simulations were prepared to show the expected visual impact from various vantage points. A detailed noise study was completed and concludes that because the project is sited well away from populated areas there will be negligible effects from noise.
Agreements were reached with telecommunications facility owners on the site for the location of individual turbines to ensure there is no interference with existing services provided from the site. The site has no special significance with respect to cultural, ecological, spiritual or historical aspects. Internationally, wind farms are recognised as potentially the most environmentally friendly power generation technology commercially available today. Wind farms do not create harmful gases that are expelled into the atmosphere and do not cause the major and irreversible changes to the landscape.
The initial 31.7 megawatts cost approximately NZ$50 million of which 25% to 35% was spent locally. Construction took approximately 12 months with between 15 and 40 people employed at the site during the construction phase. Now operational for over 12 years, the wind farm employs a number of full time staff to operate and maintain the facility. The very good wind resource on the site means that cost of generation from the project was and is still competitive with other forms of generation available to electricity retailers in the area. The project has been cashflow positive and made a contribution to earnings from day one.