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Connell contributed to New Zealand’s sustainable energy future through Harapaki Windfarm’s substation construction, tackling extreme weather, logistical obstacles, and demanding conditions.
We’re passionate about helping to pave the way for a cleaner, greener energy future in New Zealand. We were thrilled to be selected by Meridian Energy, Unison, Transpower and Omexom to deliver the civil and building works for Harapaki Windfarm Substations – New Zealand’s second largest windfarm.
Located within the Maungaharuru Range in Hawke’s Bay, Harapaki Windfarm will boost New Zealand’s ability to act on climate change and meet the nation’s Net Zero goal – becoming 100% renewable before 2030.
Harapaki boasts 41 turbines generating 176 MW of renewable energy, enough to power over 70,000 average households.
The Connell team was on-site from early 2022 until June 2023, constructing two substations – one for Transpower and the other for Meridian Energy.
The Transpower substation included new bays of foundations for electrical equipment, pre-cast cable trenching, piling works for new gantry poles, a new control room, drainage, electrical ducting, fencing and final surfacing.
The Meridian Energy substation included a two-storey pre-cast switchroom building, two new transformer foundations, an oil containment system, cable trenching for the transformers, fencing and final surfacing.
Rergional Manager Fabian Bracken said the team navigated challenges from all angles throughout the project – including logistics, extreme weather, a cyclone, and unexpected ground conditions.
“The weather was extreme, going from beautiful sunshine one minute to snow with gale force winds the next,” said Fabian.
Cyclone Gabrielle also struck the region midway through the project and the local community was hit hard. Without any local accommodation, the Connell team relocated to Taupō for accommodation.
Careful planning and a strong focus on health and safety helped the team navigate these challenging circumstances safely.
“Given the rough weather conditions we invested heavily into suitable PPE, such as fire retardant swandries and thermals, to keep the team warm and dry while still compiling with the clients’ requirements.”
“After Cycone Gabrielle, commuting ramped up immensely, with the team traveling between Taupō and the site 35kms northwest of Napier. Our team recorded travel hours extremely accurately to minimise the risk of fatigue.”
Fabian said the project’s strong focus on sustainability required the team to keep accurate records on waste and materials.
“We recorded every KG of waste disposed, as well as every KG of new material used during construction – including timber, concrete, steel and aggregate.”
While the Meridian substation was under construction, it was discovered the ground conditions didn’t meet the requirements for the new gantry pole installation.
“We worked with the client’s engineer to assist further Geotech investigations, which lead to a much larger pile foundation under the poles,” said Fabian.
Connell engaged with a range of local contractors to deliver the scope of work, including piling contractors, reinforcing fixings, plumbers and painters.
“We utilised our excellent project management and site leadership skills to bring together the right people to get the job done,” said Fabian.
“We’re proud to have delivered a successful result for all stakeholders, despite the challenges and tough conditions. With our experience in the renewable energy sector, we were able to work with our clients and project partners to find the right solutions to problems, while keeping people safe.”