Te Apiti Wind Farm
Meridian Energy’s Te Apiti wind farm is located on Saddle Road north of the Manawatu Gorge, 10 kilometres from the city of Palmerston North. It is situated around over 1,100 hectares of farmland owned by several landowners, including Meridian Energy.
The wind farm’s 55 1.65 megawatt Vestas turbines have a total capacity of 90 megawatts. They generate electricity to meet the annual electricity needs of approximately 45,000 average homes.
Each turbine has a tower measuring 70 metres high, and is fitted with 3 blades each 35 metres in length. The blade rotations per minute can vary according to the wind speed but have a maximum speed of 17 revolutions per minute.
The turbines are electronically controlled, with microprocessors that automatically start, stop and monitor them. In very high winds the turbines automatically shut down to avoid damage.
Construction of Te Apiti wind farm started in November 2003. Major work was needed to construct 21 kilometres of roads and excavate the turbine foundations. The roads were built to 10 metres wide to carry the width of the 400-tonne crawler crane that was used to install the turbines. After the turbines were erected the roads were regressed to 5 metres wide.
Te Apiti began generating electricity in August 2004. Construction of all fifty-five 1.65 megawatt turbines was completed in October 2004 and the site was officially opened by the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, on 9 December 2004.