New wind projects on Aurecon horizon

Aurecon's Wellington-based team is about to end a five-year slog on South Africa's flagship $250 million wind farm project and is eyeing new opportunities in Asia and South America.

This wind farm has 66 turbines, with a combined installed capacity of 138.6MW, enough to supply around 100,000 South African homes.

By comparison, the West Wind farm near Wellington has 62 turbines which can supply around 70,000 Kiwi homes.

Aurecon's renewable energy leader Blair Walter said they had worked with the developer in the early stages of the South African project to finalise the technical details, contracts and financing.

"We then assisted the developer in bidding the project into the first round of the South African Government's procurement process for renewable energy projects, before moving into a construction management role.

"It has been one of the biggest contracts that our renewables energy team here in Wellington has completed and we continue to support the client on future stages of the project and other developments in the region."

Walter said New Zealand is recognised for its world-class wind energy expertise and is sought after internationally.

"Even though our installed capacity of wind in New Zealand is relatively small - 600MW supplying around 5 per cent of total annual generation - we have some of the windiest and most complex wind sites in the world.

"Our existing wind farms are highly productive by international standards, generating double the amount of electricity that traditional wind areas in Europe produce."

New Zealand is also regarded as cost competitive in international markets, particularly compared to European and even Australian engineers, he said.

Globally, Aurecon has 7500 employees, including 655 in New Zealand of which 220 are based in Wellington.

Walter said governments globally are embracing wind energy as a key strategy for reducing carbon emissions from the electricity sector as international focus on climate change intensifies.

"Wind energy is a mature, cost competitive and environmentally benign power generation option that can be rapidly developed and installed in many locations."

In 2013, 35GW of wind capacity was installed worldwide taking total installed wind generation to 318GW. This year an additional 51GW of wind is expected to be installed. New Zealand's total power generation capacity is around 10GW.

Since starting with the Cookhouse Wind Farm in South Africa, Aurecon has advised on several other wind and solar projects in South Africa.

And over the past 18 months, it has become involved in projects in other parts of Africa such as Kenya, where it has helped a client to buy two late stage wind development options. The first of these is the 60MW Kinangop Wind Farm north of Nairobi.

Aurecon is providing similar roles on wind projects in Asia, primarily Thailand, and soon in South America.

The Dominion Post