NICK.BROOK@cluthaleader.co.nz

Two energy companies are teaming up for the possibility of a 300MW wind farm on privately owned rural land between Balclutha and Clinton.

Alexandra-based Pioneer Energy and renewable energy developer and generator Manawa Energy have entered into a 50:50 partnership with the rights to develop the Kaihiku Wind Farm electricity generation project.

If it proceeds, the wind farm site has capacity for about 70 wind turbines with a blade diameter of about 170m and a tip height of up to 215m.

The project would connect to existing Transpower transmission lines passing through the site, and a new local substation would be constructed on the site along with a control room, office, storage space and workshop building.

It is estimated to be able to generate about 1050GWh of renewable electricity per year, enough to power more than 135,000 households.

An early evaluation indicates the wind farm would have a capital cost of about $750 million to $900m.

Full development of the project was expected to take at least four years.

‘‘We’re a pioneer of wind development here in New Zealand,’’ Manawa Energy interim chief executive Clayton Delmarter said.

‘‘We’ve been developing renewable generation over the past 20 years on both sides of the Tasman and the Kaihiku project is the second significant wind development in our pipeline alongside the proposed 230MW Project Huriwaka in the central North Island, announced back in May.’’

It was anticipated New Zealand needed ‘‘a 50% to 70%’’ increase in renewable generation over the next 25 years.

‘‘That means an additional 4800MW to 6700MW need to be developed if we want to help meet New Zealand’s climate change targets and support the electrification of the economy,’’ he said.

Pioneer Energy chief executive Fraser Jonker said his company had been investigating the potential to develop a wind farm on the Clutha site since last year.

‘‘We’ve secured the key land access rights but there is still a lot to do.

‘‘We are under way with iwi, community and stakeholder consultation, design, environmental assessments and network connection activity.’’

Resource consents for the proposed wind farm will be required from both Clutha District Council and Otago Regional Council.

The primary consent application is expected to be lodged next year.