Friday, 21 September 2012

BLUESKIN ENERGY PROJECT

by Scott Willis

Home energy audits (free, until we reach capacity limit) for Blueskin residents are going very well. To sign up for an audit email register@blueskinpower.co.nz. You can also get quality energy advice each Monday and Tuesday by phone on 482 2207. This is a team effort from BRCT and the Energy Cultures Team at the University of Otago, with Chris Freear representing Blueskin. The solar project led by Chris Le Breton is making good progress as reported in the 'solar tube'. These are both wonderfully immediate parts of the larger energy project to build greater energy resilience for Blueskin and to provide as many opportunities as possible for people to be involved and take action.

 

The wind cluster project currently consumes most of our time which is not surprising for a project that aims to generate electricity equivalent to the annual demand of 1000 Blueskin households. I may be repeating myself, but what is foremost in our minds is to find a way of ensuring that the project achieves an appropriate return for the communities involved, because that will make other energy-saving projects (eg solar, wood lots, etc.) possible. We are seeking expert advice on what will provide that outcome and allow all the local investment we anticipate (we've received a number of enquiries). The fundamental issue relating to a wind cluster -- how much wind is there -- remains crucial. It is very exciting that Garrad Hassan (NZ's and the world's largest renewable energy consultancy) in addition to providing an expert opinion on existing wind data is providing use of a 30-metre wind measuring mast (supplied by Trustpower) which will give the type of data we will need should we seek additional financing. Once it is re-rigged and delivered we'll need a number of hands on deck to lift it into place; so please get in touch with me if you want to be involved.

 

The technical issues relating to wind testing, appropriateness of turbine model, other infrastructural requirements, etc. are only part of the picture but require significant work, and without the assistance of Garrad Hassan, Energy3, WindFlow Technology, PowerNet, Pioneer Generation and all the people in the community who help fix the little problems that occur from time to time, even this work would be an enormous challenge. A project of this nature also requires legal work, and it has been fascinating, and a little daunting, learning about the different bits of legal assistance we will need if the project gets the final big tick. On the planning side we've benefited from some early work by professional planners and are very lucky to have so many examples and people willing to share their experiences. The refined technical appraisal is the next significant area of work as it makes appropriate decisions possible. Community meetings to go over all these issues and more have been scheduled for mid-November. They are:

·        Long Beach Hall: Thursday 15th November, 7-9pm

·        Warrington Hall: Friday 16th November, 7-9pm

·        Waitati Hall: Monday 19th November, 7-9pm

Please put these dates in your diary! Visit us at: www.blueskinpower.co.nz , or at the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati (on Waitati School grounds – after 3pm please). Telephone enquiries can be made on 482 2048  (re the wind cluster) and 482 2207 (for energy advice).

 

Chris Le Breton and a mysterious engineer type try to find a small gremlin in the control box of the wind tower.

 

 

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