Palmerston North, New Zealand
The city of Palmerston North, located near the southern end of New Zealand’s North Island, is home to just over 86,300 residents (2016). Dating back to 2011, the Palmerston North City Council (PNCC) began developing plans to become a 100% RE city, with a stated completion goal of 2015. This goal was aided by the availability of wind farm development in the area, which had begun in 1999.
At that time Palmerston North and its’ outlying peri-urban areas began development of three wind farms, including New Zealand’s largest, Tararua Wind Farm. Since 1999, a total of three wind farms have been built consisting of 286 turbines, with a combined annual capacity of approximately 300 MW, providing the city with access to renewable wind power.
In addition to sourcing local wind power, the PNCC has invested in several other renewable generation projects. The installation of 4 mini-hydro turbines create enough energy to power the waste water treatment plant. The waste water treatment plant has also been retrofitted with technology allowing for the use of the waste water treatment’s bio-sludge for bio-gas production. The bio-gas produced from this process is used as a peak demand generator, capable of producing up to 75% of the city’s peak electrical demands. The PNCC has also installed a 100kW solar array on the roofs of the PNCC Central Administration Building and the City’s Convention Centre, stating that the array will significantly reduce the city’s electrical expenses.
As part of the city’s ongoing green house gas emission reduction plans, there are established financial assistance programs for improving the efficiency of residential properties. These financial assistance programs provide partial funding for solar hot water heaters, insulation and hot water heat pumps where applicable.