28/01/2010 - 00:00

Merredin wind farm to boost Wheatbelt

28/01/2010 - 00:00

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THE Wheatbelt will soon be home to the nation’s largest wind farm, as the Economic Regulation Authority seeks to clear the final hurdles to license Collgar Wind Farms, near Merredin. The ERA is currently seeking public comment on Collgar Wind Farms’ appli

Merredin wind farm to boost Wheatbelt

THE Wheatbelt will soon be home to the nation’s largest wind farm, as the Economic Regulation Authority seeks to clear the final hurdles to license Collgar Wind Farms, near Merredin. The ERA is currently seeking public comment on Collgar Wind Farms’ application for a generation licence to supply 250 megawatts of electricity to customers within the South West Interconnected System.

Collgar Wind Farms is a $750 million joint venture between Windlab Systems, which was spun out of the CSIRO in 2003, and international specialist banking group, Investec Bank. Planning approval for the wind farm was granted in September 2008, with project construction to be completed by November 2011. The wind farm, located around 20 kilometres south of Merredin, will consist of up to 127 wind turbines on 13,000 hectares of freehold land, which will produce enough electricity to power about 160,000 homes each year, and will avoid carbon

emissions equivalent to removing 200,000 cars from the road. The power produced from the Collgar wind farm will be transmittedto a nearby substation, where the electricity will connect directly to the South West Interconnected System grid network. The proposed Merredin capacity eclipses that of the largest wind farm currently operating in Australia, South Australia’s 99-turbine Lake

Bonney wind farm, which produces 239.5MW of electricity. Shire of Merredin chief executive Greg Powell said he expected the wind farm to bring an immediate economic benefit to the Wheatbelt. “There is a construction workforce estimated to be in the vicinity of 300 people, so certainly that will provide a local boost, and it will also depend on what of the construction materials will be sourced at the local level,” he said. “Given that this is a highly technical installation and most of the stuff is sourced from overseas, there’s not going to be a great deal of manufacturing spin-off, but certainly to support the construction, I would expect some benefit there.” In addition to the 300-strong construction workforce, Collgar wind farm will employ between 10 and 20 people once completed. Mr Powell said the project had

received considerable community support, and would not interfere with China Southern WestAustralian Flying College, based at Merredin Aerodrome. The largest wind farm currently operating in WA is Alinta’s Walkaway wind farm 25km southeast of Geraldton. Walkaway, which commenced operation in 2005, has a 90MW capacity, produced from 54 wind turbines, which is enough to power around 60,000 homes. The most recently completed wind farm in WA is the Stanwell Corporation and Griffin Energy joint venture, Emu Downs Wind Farm, located 30km east of Cervantes. Emu Downs consists of 48 wind turbines with the capacity of 80MW. Other WA wind farming projects are owned and operated by Verve Energy, which has operations at Albany, Ten Mile Lagoon and Nine Mile Beach near Esperance, Denham, Hopetoun, Bremer Bay and Rottnest Island. Verve’s wind farm at Ten Mile Lagoon consists of nine 225kW turbines connected to Esperance’s gas fired power station, and the Nine Mile Beach wind farm consists of six 600kW turbines. The Denham project began with the construction of a single wind turbine in 1998, but by the end of 1999, two identical turbines had been installed, and the system now has the capacity to provide 90 per cent of Denham’s electricity supply.

 

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