Renewables News

NZ stamps celebrate renewable energy

By Rich Bowden Jul 18, 2006, 20:17 GMT

The New Zealand Post Office has highlighted the country’s increasing development of its renewable energy resources by releasing a series of commemorative stamps earlier this month.

Known as the 2006 Scenic Renewable Energy series, the stamps show projects such as the Southern hemisphere’s largest wind farm at Tararua, Palmerston North on New Zealand’s North Island which features on the 45c stamp. The farm has an installed capacity of 67.98 megawatts and supplies electricity to over 30,000 homes.
Also shown are the biogas energy resources at Waikato - also located on the North Island - and the Wairakei geo-thermal plant that appear on the NZ$1.35 and $1.50 stamps respectively.

The South Island’s hydro power scheme at Central Otago’s Roxburgh Dam (90c) and solar panels installed at the lighthouse at Cape Reinga (NZ$2.00) on the country’s northern tip round off the collection.

“Renewable energy is cleaner and less toxic than burning fossil fuels like coal, oil or gas to generate electricity,” said NZ Post in a press statement accompanying the stamps’ release.

“Fossil fuels contribute to our biggest environmental threat: climate change.  We have already seen the effects of climate change in rising sea levels and extreme weather events across the world,” the statement said.
With over 60% of its energy sourced from renewable resources - the bulk of which is provided by hydro power - New Zealand is a world leader in its reliance on renewable resources for its energy needs. An enthusiastic supporter of the Kyoto Protocol, the New Zealand government has also thrown its support behind the burgeoning alternative fuel industry in its efforts to cut harmful CO2 emissions.

The Future for NZ’s Wind Energy

One of the alternative energy industries to benefit from this patronage has been wind energy. In a climate and geographical location which supports a number of alternative sources of energy, wind farms such as that featured at Tararua are realising their potential of providing a viable alternative energy source according to its supporters.

Writing in a December 2005 New Zealand’s “Windpower Monthly,” James Glennie of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association describes the recent resurgence in public support for wind power.

“Wind energy in New Zealand is now economic. And it is broadly accepted by government, key decision makers, industry and the general public that wind energy can meet 20 per cent of this country’s electricity needs,” said Mr Glennie.

“These are two very powerful messages. They signal clearly to the public that wind energy can deliver the electricity the population requires, they signal clearly to regional planners that wind energy is something to which they must give serious consideration and they signal a very clear message to project developers and their financiers, that wind turbines represent a very good investment,” he said.

Glennie called this a “new era” for the wind energy industry in New Zealand which he says will be replicated around the world as the environmental cost of fossil fuel burning for energy becomes more apparent.

Though wind accounts for only around 1% of the world’s present energy needs, countries such as Denmark already utilize this source for around 23 % of their electricity. Germany with 6% and Spain 8% also use wind as a major energy source with Germany the world’s leader in the investment in this resource.

With the cost of wind energy decreasing with the development of more efficient wind turbines, other countries are also seeing a rapid increase in the development of wind power.

Proponents such as Glennie contend that, despite censure of wind turbines for their visual pollution, harm to bird life and reliance on government subsidies, wind power in New Zealand - with its newfound competitiveness against other renewable and traditional fossil fuel energy - has arrived as a serious energy alternative.

“New Zealand winds blow at an impressive average of 9.5-10.5 metres per second. It is an exceptional wind resource and among the best anywhere on the globe,” said Glennie.

“As a result, wind energy [in New Zealand] now competes with every other form of electricity generation on its own merits.”

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