Tuesday, 23 February 2010

WAITATI ENERGY PROJECT (column)

WAITATI ENERGY PROJECT

by Scott Willis

There's plenty of news of wind farms to the West, and there is plenty
happening in our own patch too. If we're successful, we'll own our
turbine, and receive income from it, and have a say in what we do
collectively with that income. Turbine news will follow, but first a
little on Solar.

Solar (PV)

What if we could negotiate a good price for Photovoltaic systems (PV)?
(that's systems that convert solar energy from the sun directly into
electricity). Solar electricity systems, not solar hot water systems
(though they too should be on virtually every house as a matter of
course). The Waitati Energy Project has become aware of a potential
price drop in PV panels and along with the change in technology it is
simpler to connect to the grid. If confirmed, we may have an
opportunity to do a similar thing to last year's insulation retrofit
rollout: this time it would be a 'PV rollout'.

There are a few things to fall into place first. One, we're seeking
funding to employ someone to work on this initiative (our office is
small, with too many things on the desks already). Two, we'll need to
finalise negotiations with industry. Three, we'll need to set up the
systems to deliver. But the idea is that PV is complementary to a
community turbine – it is modular and can be put in place over time to
work in conjunction with it. Lindsay Graham is heading the WEP action
on this, and we've talking with Port Chalmers, Transition Valley 473
and Hampden Energy Group around spreading it along East Coast Otago,
and who knows where else?

Co-operative vs company

Work on the community turbine is demanding energy at present. This
month our report to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority
is due, and there are still many loose ends to tie up. Alice Bowden,
along with Seth Gorrie and Solis Norton at the University of Otago are
working to allow us a robust generation estimate. Without enough wind
we can't do much. Thanks also to data provided by Trustpower (testing
in the late 1990s) we now have a good idea of what wind resources we
can expect, though there is much fine tuning to do. We're only
beginning to look at how we go about consulting widely. You know about
things via the Blueskin News of course, but we're planning a big
'Information Day' mid year to discuss the project in more depth. And
of course, how we own it is the big question (assuming it would be
worth owning - that is, there's enough wind). It is this curly
question that Polson
Higgs (business advisors) are contracted to help us find an answer to:
will it be a co-operative or a company? We'll be able to provide
interesting answers to this question by the end of March, I can
guarantee that!

Turbine Field Trip

The field trip to Pioneer Generation's three 750 Kw NEG Micon turbines
at Horseshoe Bend near Roxburgh is scheduled for Saturday the 13th
of March. This is going to be a fun day out, so please let me know if
you'd like to come along: we have a lot to organise and want your
details.

Turbine Testing Sites

Thank you to all who have suggested further sites. We're following up
promising ideas and if you're a landowner above Warrington with an
especially windy spot and like the idea, please get in touch.

Finally, while we're working on the turbine project at the Blueskin
Resilient Communities Trust office in Waitati, we're also busy writing
funding applications for all the other activities planned and will
soon be joined by a Weggie worker. None of that means we're too busy
to enjoy what else is on offer. I'm particularly looking forward to
the Train to Dunedin on the 10th of March and am planning a 'town
day'. Then on the 27th of March there's EARTH HOUR: Lights off,
between 8.30 – 9.30pm to raise awareness towards the need to take
action on climate change. And somewhere in between I'm off to Nelson
to talk about our project and meet with the other Climate Change hubs
funded by Hikurangi. Chuck in another Waitati Edible Gardeners Market
on the 21st of March and the month with be cooked!

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Ā ā Ē ē Ī ī Ō ō Ū ū
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can find out for yourself whether your venture should be a cooperative or a company for free through the NZ Co-ops Assn - www.nz.coop