Portland engineering firm Keppel Prince expects to double its workforce from 100 to 200 workers later this year as the wind energy industry ramps up.
Keppel Prince general manager Steve Garner the upturn in the company’s production would also generate more work for numerous service industries throughout the region that supply Keppel Prince such as transport, materials, gas and welding equipment.
Mr Garner said the company was currently building 15 turbine towers for Tilt Renewables’ Salt Creek wind farm north of Mortlake.
Keppel Prince was also bidding to build turbine towers for several other wind farms including the 107-turbine Moorabool farm south of Ballan and the 150-turbine Stockyard Hill farm west of Ballarat, the 63-turbine Bulgana Green Power Hub planned for Stawell and the 39-turbine Crowlands farm near Ararat.
Mr Garner said those projects were not associated with the Victorian government’s renewable energy legislation that is expected to be the catalyst for the development of many more wind farms.
The legislation sets renewable energy generation targets for Victoria of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025. The first tender to supply 650 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy capacity as part of the target was expected to be let this year, Mr Garner said.
Mr Garner said regulations requiring most of materials for wind farms to be made in Australia would also produce big benefits for the region, including the Port of Portland.
“A lot of the (overseas-made) turbine blades come in through the port,” Mr Garner said.
Recently amended plans for another 170 wind turbines at three wind farms at Ryan Corner, north of Port Fairy, Hawkesdale and Dundonnell, north east of Mortlake, will add to the jobs bonanza.
“Wind energy was the cheapest form of renewable energy that can go into the market today. There is no other energy that can be built as cheap,” Mr Garner said.
Countering the jobs bonanza are concerns from some landowners about the number of wind turbines in the south-west and their noise and visual impact.
Wind energy is the cheapest form of renewable energy that can go into the market today.Steve Garner