S.B. Cox testimony regarding the Te Uku wind project
Mr. Sean Cox presented evidence at the Resource Management Act hearing for the Te Uku wind farm which directly countered the economic case for the wind farm, its carbon emissions justification, the available wind resource at Te Uku, adverse noise and health effects, and challenged the expertise of some of wind developer Wel's consultants. When completed, Wel counsel Simon Berry asked that the hearing be adjourned to permit the developer time to respond to Mr. Cox's submission. An excerpt of Mr. Cox's testimony is included below. The full transcript can be accessed by clicking on one of the two links provided.
Excerpt of Mr. Cox's introduction and summary testimony:
This submission will probably give the superficial impression that I am ‘anti’ wind power. This is not the case however. I was first involved in the design of wind turbines in 1974. I have been involved with all kinds of wind power ever since and consider the wind to be a very useful and under utilised energy resource.
I am ‘anti’ poorly conceived projects that bring useful technologies into disrepute.
I have lived on the Aotea harbour for about 15 yrs, 10 km directly upwind of the Wharauroa Plateau in the prevailing SW wind.
Since one of my activities is as a consultant sail designer for a British company I have a great interest in the wind. In fact I was the first person do do research into the microcell structure of wind in modern times. This was in 1974, the field had been dormant since work for airships had been done in 1928.
This interest has lead me to record wind data in some detail at Makomako for the last ten years. From this record I am well aware of the wind conditions in the Raglan area and the fact that it is the least windy area of any on the west coast of NZ from Wellington to Dargaville.
My first reaction on hearing of the TE Uku project was what!! Simply because this area is one of the last you would look at on the whole west coast. I immediately made an estimate of the wind at the plateau. Given that it is higher and further inland than my recording site. I could not get the numbers to say anything other than it was a marginal medium wind site, even by European standards.
The first thing I said to WEL at the first public meeting was to ask to see their wind data to compare it to mine. WEL refused to let me see their data and showed no interest in seeing mine. I was dumbfounded. You have to understand that if you are planning a wind energy project and somebody said they had 10 years of detailed wind data for the area you would normally give an arm and a maybe a leg to see it.
Call me paranoid but the only reason I could think of for this bizarre behaviour was they knew it was bad and intended to fudge their own data.
Since this first meeting I have tried many times to get WEL to release meaningful data on the wind conditions they expect or on the revenue and cash flow they expect from this site. They have always refused saying that it was commercially sensitive. Of course this is rubbish. They could have hired me as a consultant under NDA for a nominal $1 and shut me up straight away if they had a case that would stand up to informed scrutiny.
They have come to this hearing with more fluff and absurd claims.
I am now going to present an analysis of the actual output, useful power produced, economic and carbon balance for this project. I have done this using wind data from a site 10 km to the south west of the plateau but corrected for the plateau’s elevation and position. I would have preferred to do this with WEL’s own data for the historical wind but I was refused access to this for the last time midday on 19/11/2007.
The data I have used is poor at night but this is of no consequence for the economics of the project. Power produced between 10pm and 6am has almost no value, if a lot of wind power is installed in NZ the value may even be negative on a windy night!
The plateau could have some kind of anomalous wind condition but I doubt this as the flora and trees look as if it is a bit windier than the coast, just as would be expected.
Calculating the useful power from a wind turbine array is not a trivial exercise. The fundamental is not what power you can produce, but what you can SELL. There are two basic models, with and without cogeneration. The model with cogeneration has significantly greater output and is more economically viable. I will only present the stand alone model as this is represents the actual application. I believe that WEL would have had to apply for approval for a cogeneration plant at the same time as the wind turbines if it was part of the same project.
The bidding style for the NZ wholesale electricity market has changed since this model was made. Shorter periods of commitment are now possible but this has no net effect as new rules coming in to force will prohibit the bidding of more than 90% of maximum output from wind turbines without cogeneration. Rather than present the output from a computer program and say “here is the answer” I intend to go over a representative day and show how the wind variations effect the potential power and useful power output.
I have chosen a day that is representative of the average, that is that the average outputs for the day are about 1/365 of the expected yearly average.
The output of the whole site is the important figure so the windspeed can be averaged over the whole site for any period that it takes a representative gust cell to pass the site. Actual power output curve of a turbine is taken from that of a Vestas V90.
Attached is a chart of a representative day. A day was chosen that gives the averages of windspeed and bid power as close as possible to the annual average. The characteristic gust cell of this day took about 15 minutes to pass the site so a wind speed time averaged over 10 minutes was used. The turbine position assumed is not the best but is better than average for this direction. No allowance for turbine interference has been made so this an OPTIMISTIC calculation. To estimate bid power it has been assumed that WEL will be able to predict wind well enough to achieve a bid level of 94% of actual following hour minimum. This level of prediction is high and requires the spending of real money for sensors, software and possibly manual intervention.
The total power output is for 27 turbines, it would be normal for at least 1 of 28 turbines to be out of operation at any time.
( continued )
There is no possibility of any national or public benefit from WEL's Te Uku wind power project.
By objective measure it looks like an economic and power supply disaster as well as an environmental disaster.
Importing and placing these wind turbines will cause significant economic damage to New Zealand. Operating these wind turbines will cause disruption to electricity supplies and deliver relatively small amounts of power.
The manufacture, transport, placement, and financial arrangements for these wind turbines will cause large emissions of carbon dioxide. This is contrary to stated government policy.
Far better alternatives exist for renewable electricity generation. At least four options exist that:
- Cause far less environmental damage, and may even cause environmental improvement.
- Generate Electricity far more cheaply and with a much higher domestic content.
- Enhance the quality of supply and stability of the national grid.
- Both save Carbon emissions and sequester Carbon from the atmosphere.
The Te Uku wind power project does not have an advantage in any of these areas over any of the options. The application should be refused on the grounds of its potential damage to the economy of New Zealand
<Editor's note: The entire testimony can be accessed by clicking on one of the two links below.>