By Scott Willis
Thank you to all who have brought important energy issues to the fore recently – what better way to pass winter? In addition to opinion, we'll be bringing some assistance to Blueskin households who aim to make improvements in their home energy situation over the next few months (see below).
The Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust and Otago University's Energy Cultures Team have teamed up to deliver expert energy advice and study how households respond to advice. We want to help people to make changes to their homes and practices for warmer, drier homes and/or improved energy efficiency, and to evaluate the effectiveness of energy advice.
Several different approaches will be trialled including home audits, information evenings and a telephone help line. If you're in Long Beach, Purakaunui, Osborne, Waitati or Warrington, you may be able to secure an energy audit and will be able to get telephone advice (see below).
The Energy Cultures team will be surveying people to assess the effectiveness of the different approaches. The comparison will look at things like the differences in energy-related changes, energy literacy and energy networking. If you wish to know more about the trial and to register your interest, visit us at www.blueskinpower.co.nz or telephone the energy advice hotline on 482207 (Mon and Tues).
We now have an updated wind resource assessment from the Porteous Hill monitored site and independent experts who are analysing that information to tell us what is possible given the duration and strength of the wind. That will lead to a discussion about what turbines are most appropriate for those conditions, though we're modelling the Windflow 500 model. Then we need to crunch the money numbers to see if they make sense. Given the electricity generated, life of the turbine, capital cost and the income likely to be generated we need to determine if this is a goer and under what conditions.
We're wanting to minimise the risk of any such scheme so a lot of effort is going into identifying ways of achieving that end, or finding possible partners that could lower or mitigate any inherent risks. That's never easy as there are always advantages and disadvantages to every possibility, but they all need to be carefully considered. Once all that information is collated it will be time for hall meetings around the different Blueskin communities again to see if our proposal works for you. We're currently targeting the end of September for those meetings, but the exact timing may depend on when reports we have commissioned become available.
It's probably important to mention that a wind turbine cluster, should it come to pass, is really only another step along the way to making our communities resilient, but it is an important one. If it can be made to occur, it has the potential to provide money to support the development of other energy-centred projects in the area like solar, water, steam, household wind generation, smart meters … the list is endless. The possibilities are exciting and ever-changing as new options and new technologies become available. At the hall meetings later in the year we'll try to outline some of those possibilities.
For more information about the wind cluster project contact Scott on 482 2048 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website.