A New Zealand-owned renewable power company plans to build a $150 million wind farm on the west coast north of Dargaville.
Omamari Wind Farm, if it gets a green light, will have up to 19 turbines in two clusters on farmland 2-3km inland from Ripiro Beach and about 10km north of Dargaville. It would generate enough power for 25,000 homes.
Tilt Renewables, which is majority owned by infrastructure company Infratil, has applied to the Kaipara District Council for a publicly notified resource consent. Submissions closed on May 6.
According to application documents, the wind farm would have a capacity of about 73MW — bigger than the new Ngāwhā geothermal plant's 32MW — and average annual generation of 230GWh.
However, geothermal power plants run at peak capacity almost constantly while the wind farm would produce 73MW only in optimum wind conditions.
Each turbine would have a maximum height of 220m, measured to the top of the blade, with the blade tips coming no closer than 30m to the ground.
Tilt also plans to build an electricity substation and an operations and maintenance facility at the site.
The wind farm would be connected to Northpower's substation in Dargaville by a 66kV line, which is not included in the consent application. A power line route has yet to be confirmed.
The farmland is owned by Landcorp, also known as Pāmu Farms, with the site's main access on Maitahi Rd, off State Highway 12.
Sections of Maitahi Rd and Babylon Coast Rd would be widened as part of the project.
Construction would take about two years with 200 vehicle movements a day during the busiest period. The over-sized turbine components would be trucked from Northport.
Currently Kaipara is dependent on electricity transported long distances via the national grid.
If the wind farm goes ahead — combined with plans for New Zealand's biggest solar power farm just north of Dargaville, announced last week by Lodestone Energy — Kaipara would become a significant producer of renewable energy.
As part of its application Tilt commissioned a raft of reports examining the wind farm's environmental, visual, traffic, noise, aviation and economic effects.
A report by the NZ Institute of Economic Research found the wind farm, combined with the new geothermal plant at Ngāwhā, would produce 51 per cent of Northland's power needs.
That would reduce the region's reliance on power transported from afar, increase resilience, and help suppress future power price rises.
By displacing more expensive thermally-generated power the wind farm would also reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
The construction phase would boost the Kaipara economy by $18.7m over two years with an ongoing $900,000 a year for maintenance.
About 100 people would be employed during construction but once complete the wind farm would create a maximum of four full-time jobs.
The nearest area of ecological importance is the Maitahi Wetland Scientific Reserve beside Maitahi Rd.
Tilt anticipates starting construction late this year or early 2022.
Meanwhile, Lodestone Energy plans to build five solar farms around the country, including a 120GWh plant with 30ha of panels on farmland on the outskirts of Dargaville.
Lodestone's plans for a Kaitaia solar farm are well advanced but the company has yet to apply for consent for the Dargaville project.
In April another company, Creative Business Solutions, was granted consent to build a solar farm on a rural Kaipara site.
■ Go to tiltrenewables.com to find out more about the project.