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Waipipi Wind Farm, Taranaki

On the 1 November a sod-turning ceremony was held at the 800 hectare South Taranaki Waipipi Wind Farm site to mark the official start of the construction project with Tilt Renewables. The $277 million project will see the installation of 31 turbines with 160 metre tip height - the largest ever installed in New Zealand. There will be 21km of road built to service them.

Around 85 people attended the ceremony which started at the marae of South Taranaki iwi Ngā Rauru, Te Wairoa Iti, in Waverley.

“It was fantastic to see the official start of the project. A small team have been working intensively in the background for some time now and of course we have completed some pre-construction works recently but we now hit the ground with significant works from here on in” says Higgins Project Manager Jarrod Franklin Browne.

Pre-construction early works commenced at the start of September in accordance with pre-construction resource consent conditions. These works included the fencing of the environmental buffer zones, wetlands and Waipipi stream along with access road upgrades from SH3 to the site entrance (via Rangikura and Dryden Road).

The ceremony included speeches from Ngā Rauru tumu whakarae (chairman) Mike Neho, new South Taranaki mayor Phil Nixon and Tilt Renewables chief executive Deion Campbell. They talked about the significance of the place and the bestowing of the name "Waipipi". Campbell and a Ngā Rauru elder symbolically turned the first sod, though project road building at the site has been going on for two weeks.

Deion Campbell says the 133 MW site is due to generate first energy late next year, with project completion set for March 2021. Melbourne-based Tilt Renewables expects Waipipi will generate about 455 GWh a year. That’s enough clean energy each year to power about 70,000 homes and save the emission of roughly 350,000 tonnes of carbon. This is the equivalent of removing about 70,000 cars from our roads.