Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Blueskin Energy Project


by Scott Willis

In June we received the 12 month energy yield assessment from DNV-GL Energy, who provide our wind data analysis. There were no surprises. The predicted energy yield on the Porteous Hill site is the same after 12 months testing as was predicted after 6 months. The reason behind the accurate 6 month prediction is partly due to the information gathered from our 10 metre tower over the last 3 years. As usual, we are being ultra-cautious and it’s great to have our expectations confirmed. For the purposes of the assessment we asked DNV-GL Energy to model the Gamesa G58 (850kW rated) wind turbine – practically the same turbine model used at Mt Stuart at Waitahuna near Milton. You can usually see the 9 turbines from the State Highway 1 turn-off to Central Otago south of Milton. We are also modelling other turbine models as well, to gauge the productivity from different models and assess different development options.

The 10 metre meteorological tower will soon be dis-assembled as it has done its job and, now that it has developed a glitch in the top anemometer, it is time for it to come down. Our 30-metre mast will remain monitoring wind yield as we continue to prepare the proposed development. Another larger mast will be installed at a different location in the future, to help build up our knowledge of the Blueskin wind profile even more. Few if any other proposed wind farm developments have had anything like the concentration of wind testing per turbine footprint that we’ve been doing in Blueskin, and the value of this thorough testing is to de-risk the project as much as possible.

In June we held a very productive business-planning workshop with support partners from the Ahika Foundation (formally the Hikurangi Foundation). As we get greater detail from turbine manufacturers we are able to make our business modelling more accurate, look at how much debt the project can carry, and plan capital-raising.

We’ve also looked at more recent analysis of the electricity market. The future is of course notoriously difficult to predict, particularly when climate change is factored in. Many analysts do not see an imminent closure of the smelter at Tiwai Point as likely, but do see some production down-grade as a possibility. Even under a down-grade scenario the analysts believe there is unlikely to be much of a change in power prices. All of this has implications for how the market receives the electricity produced at the proposed Blueskin wind development and how much that market is prepared to pay for it – but generally in a positive sense.

In other energy news, it is great to see solar installations continuing to climb and we are excited to be getting close to getting our own solar panels up on the roof of the BRCT office. Look out for our PledgeMe campaign, where we are seeking funding for the last wee bit (installation).

Visit us in the BRCT office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati. Telephone enquiries can be made on 4822048 and we can be contacted at: www.brct.org.nz

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