Counting just the space used by the turbines, the roads, and the electricity infrastructure, this would use only 0.003 percent of the country’s land.
A similarly rural economy in Iowa expanded wind power using leasing arrangements with farmers to supply over 20 percent of its energy by 2011. But Iowa had passed one of the earliest mandates for a percentage of its energy to come from renewables (in 1983).
There is no similar mandate for a percent of renewables in New Zealand, but merely a target for 90 percent renewable by 2025.
Asked if that lack of a hard mandate will impact New Zealand’s wind prospects, Nigel Parry, communications manager at New Zealand Wind Energy Association, told EarthTechling he did not see it as an impediment. Unlike in the U.S., where the fossil fuel industry has a chokehold on climate policy, the minuscule coal industry in New Zealand does not have similar political power, so he feels a target works as well as a mandate.
Parry said the country has such excellent wind resources that the long run marginal cost of wind is already lower than hydro, geothermal or coal power now, and if gas gets any more expensive, new wind would be cheaper than gas too.
Marginal costs are the determinant of grid priorities in Germany and some other European nations, as well as in Australia. Because the merit order effect gives more weight to low marginal cost “free” fuels in costing power, it gives the advantage to renewables.
He said that while Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts wind parity globally by 2016, some places – such as New Zealand – are already there due to their excellent wind resources.
As with Iowa, leases could be an additional incentive.
The NZWEA says that wind farm leasing would provide an additional form of revenue for many farmers—delivering over $10 million in annual lease payments by 2030.
“Leases vary,” Parry wrote in an email in response to a question about current earnings from wind farm leases, “but farmers are already earning around NZ$1,500-6,000 ($1,233-$4,932) per MW annually.”
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