WIND farm development in Moyne Shire is moving again after a period of uncertainty stemming from the lowering of Australia’s renewable energy target.
Four wind farm developers are looking to amend their planning permits to update the turbine technology they intend to use, while the Planning Minister Richard Wynne is expected to approve another wind farm in the coming weeks.
Community engagement committees for two wind farms are meeting this month to discuss the futures of those farms.
At present there are four wind farms operating in Moyne Shire – the long-running adjacent farms at Codrington and Yambuk, the Mortons Lane Wind Farm east of Penshurst which crosses Moyne and Southern Grampians shires, and the Macarthur Wind Farm, which is the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere.
Five more have received planning permits. Of those, Union Fenosa has applied to amend their plans for the Ryan Corner and Hawkesdale wind farms, Acciona has indicated they would like to update their planning permit for the Mortlake South development, and Trust Power’s Salt Creek project recently received approval for planning permit amendments.
Ryan Corner has applied to have 56 turbines instead of 68, while Hawkesdale is looking to have 26 instead of 31. The turbines will be 180 metres tall (up from 126m) and both farms are scheduled to be completed by August 29, 2019.
Similarly, Mortlake South is seeking to have a maximum wind turbine height of 186m (up from 141m) and feature 42 turbines (down from 51).
The community engagement committee for the Mortlake South Wind Farm is expected to meet on April 27.
Salt Creek has been approved to use updated turbine technology, and is expected to comprise up to 15 turbines. It is due for completion in March, 2018.
The Woolsthorpe Wind Farm also has a planning permit and is expected to have 20 turbines. It is a project of New Zealand company Wind Farm Development and due to be completed by March 12, 2018.
Wind Farm Development managing director Alistair Wilson said his company was “looking to secure an offtake agreement” – ie. someone to buy the electricity the wind farm is expected to produce – in order to fund the Woolsthorpe development.
Mr Wilson said the Woolsthorpe enterprise had been included in a tender that Wind Farm Development was making in the ACT “to endeavour to get on an offtake agreement”.
The ACT is working towards having 90 per cent of its electricity needs met by renewable energy sources by 2020.
He said the federal government’s reduction of the renewable energy target (RET) from 41,000 gigawatt hours to 33,000 gigawatt hours meant there was a surplus of green electricity on the market at the moment, but he anticipated the surplus would start to run out by 2017-2018.
“The real answer is that until (electricity) retailers re-engage in 2017-2018 … we’re still waiting,” he said.
A wind farm such as the proposed one at Woolsthorpe would be ready in time to meet that renewed demand in 2017-2018, he said, anticipating it would take between nine and 15 months to complete the project.
“The south-west has a degree of expertise that is the foremost in the construction of wind farms in Australia,” Mr Wilson said.
Things are also stirring for the Dundonnell Wind Farm, which would see up to 96 turbines erected approximately 12km east of Woorndoo.
Moyne Shire’s manager of planning Michelle Grainger said a planning permit was “anticipated in the next couple of weeks” for the Dundonnell development.
She said there were several other wind farms proposed, where developers were undertaking preliminary scoping of sites, collecting data with anemometers, and talking to landowners.
These include the Penshurst Wind Farm, which would span Moyne and Southern Grampians shires and feature up to 200 turbines, the Willatook Wind Farm (about 100 turbines), the Mt Fyans Wind Farm (about 100 turbines), the Darlington Wind Farm (80 turbines) and the Tarrone Wind Farm (20 turbines).
The community engagement committee for the Willatook Wind Farm met on April 19, Moyne Shire mayor Colin Ryan said there were no developments.
He said the community had sought the meeting to find out the latest on the project, but the latest from developers Wind Prospect was they were just “marking time”.
“There’s no firm development schedule for when they’re going to commence,” Cr Ryan said.
“They’ve still got wind testing equipment there.”
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