It's Global Wind Day, and right on cue, there's a good westerly blowing in from the Tasman Sea this morning. We'd never heard of Global Wind Day before, but after a few seconds of research, the Dom-Post was able to educate us - read on:
While Wellington's wind funnels through the city streets on Global Wind Day, the capital's residents could be forgiven for failing to appreciate how fortunate they are.
Today, for the first time, New Zealand is joining more than 30 countries in marking the annual event, buoyed by new data that shows how big a role wind energy will play in the future.
Figures published today show renewable energy sources are behind 79 per cent of New Zealand's electricity generation.
Acting Energy and Resources Minister Hekia Parata said that figure was up from 74 per cent in the March quarter. She described the increase – partly due to strong hydro inflows and generation from new wind and geothermal sources – as great news.
Renewables were a big part of New Zealand's energy picture, she said. "Our rivers and lakes have long provided hydro-electricity and our wind resources are world-class."
Wind Energy Association chief executive Fraser Clark said independent research now estimated wind energy could grow to 20 per cent of all electricity generation by 2030.
Many cities around the world were considering the security of their energy supply and would look enviously at Wellington. "Here we are in Wellington and unusual in that the resource is sitting on our doorstep and it's a cost-effective and very useful one at that."
Although some people would struggle to accept wind farms, Mr Clark said most recognised that wind power was a valuable resource.
Wind is certainly the one natural resource in which New Zealand is rich, being an island nation in an expanse of ocean. Harnessing the power of nature by way of wind farms is certainly a clean, green way of producing electricity.
We frequently see the Te Apiti wind farm near Palmerston North on our travels over there. From the time one crests the summit of Mt Stewart, the turbines are visible, and they are a part of the Manawatu landscape; so much so that the Manawatu ITM Cup rugby team is nicknamed the Turbos. We reckon that they are a welcome addition to the landscape, rather than a blight upon it. On occasions we have driven through the Manawatu Gorge on one of those grey, misty Manawatu days, and to have one of these giants suddenly appear out of the mist towering above you is quite a sight.
Wind farms haven't met with universal approval though. There was a very vocal and high profile protest against an initiative in Central Otago where the opposition was fronted by the likes of Graeme Sydney and Anton Oliver. We could never figure that one out; both were keen to promote the ultimate clean, green New Zealand, yet neither wanted a wind farm in their back yard. We found that somewhat paradoxical.
As New Zealand continues to grow, the demand for new sources of electricity generation will rise accordingly. If wind power can be harnessed, isn't that a pathway that we should be following? Sure, wind turbines are large, and they do emit a humming sound, but they don't require the building of dams, nor do they burn coal or gas; finite resources. The wind will always be with us, so let's put it to good use.