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New Zealand Windpower: Great Winds, Bad Electricity

By Bryan Leland -- June 6, 2009

The steady winds of New Zealand have allowed the country’s wind turbines to have the highest capacity factors for the wind in the world (around 37–40 percent). However, wind still has a cost premium to alternatives and is intermittent. In addition, output is about 10 percent below average in the autumn and early winter when it is most needed in New Zealand. The country’s abundant hydro resources (and pumped storage) cannot rescue wind from its intermittency and seasonality problems.

Prospectively, greater reliance on wind from government edicts is throwing good money after bad. Non-intermittent sources are far cheaper, not just reliable. A let-the-market-decide policy is needed in New Zealand as for the rest of the world.


The enthusiasm for renewable energy in the form of windpower, marine power, and the like, is driven by a belief that man-made greenhouse gases will cause dangerous global warming and that large-scale adoption of these technologies will “fight climate change.”…