New Zealand Wind Prospecting
Wind farm development is increasing in New Zealand (NZ) with the focus of the energy industry shifting towards renewable energy sources. NZ has an excellent wind resource making it ideal for wind power generation. Our wind energy prospecting techniques were developed and tested in NZ and have successfully been used to identify existing wind farm projects and potential sites for new wind farms. These modelling techniques have not been applied within the wind farm industry in NZ before and could be an excellent resource for any company wanting to find land for new wind farm projects in New Zealand.
Using spatial data modelling techniques our prospecting tool takes the variables that influence wind farm site selection in NZ and combines them into one map that can be used to identify suitable wind farms locations. The spatial variables considered in this model are wind speed, terrain, elevation, proximity to roads, proximity to power lines, population density, distance from built up areas, distance from waterways, and consideration for land use and conservation areas. Predictive maps of these variables were created in a GIS and were weighted and combined using fuzzy logic modelling tools. All spatial data used in this model is held by Kenex and came from a number of different organisations including Aurecon, DOC, GNS Science, NIWA, and Terralink.
Quality wind speed data is a requirement in any wind modelling project and mesoscale modelling by Aurecon that predicts the wind speed over a study area is utilised in our NZ wind energy prospecting work. This modelling of atmospheric data provides us with continuous detailed coverage of wind speed and wind direction.
Our current NZ wide model has successfully identified existing and planned wind farm locations in New Zealand and also ruled out areas known to be unsuitable for wind farm development (e.g., National Parks, waterways and towns). For example in the Wellington region the sites for Meridian’s West Wind and Mill Creek projects have come up as highly suitable whereas urban areas and zones of conservation interest come up as unsuitable (see inset figure). This match to existing knowledge has verified the modelling technique and also highlighted areas where the modelling could be improved with higher quality data. The modelling has targeted specific areas of NZ that would be suitable for wind farm development and has already located several potential targets for follow-up investigation.
Our modelling over all of New Zealand to find new targets for development is enhanced further in individual regions of interest. In these models we use more detailed mesoscale wind speed data from Aurecon and advanced terrain modelling to predict areas that are constructible and where there is unlikely to be turbulence from terrain features. This regional modelling can be used to map the possible extent of a wind farm, plan how many turbines you might be able to support at the site, and even target areas to investigate for turbine placements.