“Blown away” by Wellington’s wonderful wind farm

Windpower at Mai’s fingertips.
Windpower at Mai’s fingertips.

Three ELTO officials share their experiences of a visit to Project West Wind on the windy hills above Wellington. First, Tran Minh Hue from the Ministry of Planning and Investment in Vietnam reports:

“Wonderful” is a word I would like to use to express my feelings about the visit to the wind farm in Makara. Splendid weather with sunlight and gentle winds made last Tuesday so nice. The road to Makara was quite windy and in return, scenes on both sides were so impressive. The range after range of hills and mountains covered in green trees made the farm seem immense.
There are 62 wind turbines in Project West Wind. As the bus went through the site, I I tried to count them. One, two, three. . . Plenty of turbines gradually appeared before my eyes. All of them were so high; and they were not noisy as many people have said..
On the way to the main area of the wind farm, I also saw the substation which transforms the wind into electricity. Although, there is only one it plays an important role in supplying electricity for the Wellington region.
 
I also asked our language tutor why Wellington has implemented the wind farm project so late. With the advantage of wind, the city could have done the project many years ago. According to her explanation, a difficulty for the project was the community response. Some people did not want to build a wind farm in the area because they were concerned about noise from the turbines. Other people were worried about moving when the work was being carried out. In order to get a consensus, the Wellington city council and the project had to spend a lot of time in consultation.
 
For me, the visit was a valuable experience to learn about the wind farm and why Wellington city has chosen to carry out the project. Wind is a renewable energy resource that Wellington has a good supply of.
 
In some areas in Vietnam there is wind energy like Wellington but it is not simple for us to do projects related to renewable energy resources. Meridian Energy is a good example for my home country to learn from in the near future. I still remember clearly the reading related to climate change and sustainable energy use. It was useful material and thanks to it we had an overall view of alternative energies such as wind and solar power. And the future energy sources open a new way to stop climate change and deal with its effects.
Although I felt carsick on the road to the farm, I will never regret when I go back to Vietnam, that I visited there.
  
Iwiliss Yin from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Cambodia shares her reactions
I found the trip to Makara Wind Farm so fantastic like nothing I have seen before. It was very exciting with the 67m high turbines and 40m blades, as big as an aircraft. It’s not only big but also very useful for using natural resources for New Zealanders.
I was impressed by the architecture and how they find a good way to help people to live more easily. They have West Wind projects in four places such as Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. The wind power project will provide an additional incomestream for farmers while using a small proportion of the land. I think New Zealand has  many innovative ideas for using natural resources to provide people with a  high standard of living.
 
Nguyen Thi Hinh Thanh from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam comments:
The field trip this week was to visit the Makara Wind farm. Alternative sources of energy are becoming more important for economic development as well as environmental protection. New Zealand has taken advantage of its geography and technological development in generating new energy sources by building the wind farm.
The process of building this farm took nearly 20 years. The negotiation with the communities who live around the wind farm kept going for 17 years. Before building, the experts calculated carefully using technical data to choose the best place to put the turbines. The distance between them is not similar. At full capacity, the wind farm will supply Wellington city’s power. There are automatic systems inside each turbine to ensure that all are used to their highest capacity.
When we came here, we had to follow technical safety requirements by wearing hard hats and orange shirts. We looked like workers on a building construction site. Standing on the top of the mountain, we enjoyed the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the blue sea. We were also impressed by the results of human labour. In Vietnam, we have not yet built any wind farms because we lack financial sources and technical skills. However, I hope that these systems will be set up soon in Vietnam. These are effective alternative energy sources in the future to reduce pressures on the environment and natural resources.
Safety gear compulsory at wind farm site
The massive windmills harness energy from the skies