Australia’s second-largest wind farm, and South Australia’s largest, looks set to be completed by September this year, after its owner – New Zealand wind power developer turned gentailer, Trustpower – revealed that its 270MW Snowtown 2 project was running two months ahead of schedule.
Originally slated to be fully commissioned by November 2014, phase 2 of the Snowtown project will comprise 10 Siemens SWT-3.0-101 turbines and 80 SWT-3.0-108 direct-drive (no gearbox) wind turbines and will produce an annual output of 985 GWh.
Located 170km north of Adelaide on the Barunga and Hummock Ranges, Snowtown 2 has been built adjacent to its stage 1 counterpart – one of mainland Australia’s best performing wind farms since its 47 Suzlon wind turbines were switched on in 2008.
In FY2013-14, Snowtown 1 produced a record 397GWh of wind energy, an 11GWh (3 per cent) increase on the previous year and 3 per cent above the expected long term average. In addition, early commissioned turbines from Snowtown 2 have contributed 139GWh to total Australian wind production for the period.
Once complete, the combined Snowtown development promises to provide some of the cheapest wind energy in Australia, considering the existing wind farm has a capacity factor of about 42 per cent.
Trustpower says it expects the two wind farms to produce a total average annual output of approximately 1,350GWh: enough to power 230,000 homes and offset 950,000 tonnes a year of CO2 currently produced by coal-fired electricity generation.
Faced with a generation oversupply situation in New Zealand, TrustPower has had great success with wind power in Australia, tapping some of its most gusty resources and winning over local landowners with a unique offer to pay owners of properties neighbouring the wind farms – as well as turbine hosts.
In December last year, the company proposed making voluntary “sliding scale” payments to property owners near its planned $700 million Palmer wind project in the Mt Lofty ranges east of Adelaide, with payments of up to $2,000 a year to be offered to property owners with a boundary within 1km, or a residence within 2kms of a wind turbine.
Having acquired the electricity and gas customers of Energy Direct NZ Limited (EDNZ), the company has undertaken a major rebranding exercise, establishing its position as New Zealand’s leading multi-utility retailer and broadening its product suite to include power, ultra-fast broadband and phone services, natural gas and bottled LPG.
In Australia, Trustpower will be hoping that the Renewable Energy Target – currently under review by the Abbott government – remains in tact, while it “actively progresses” other options, with the aim of developing further wind projects to help meet the RET over the next five years.
The company says it has development approval applications in progress for up to 320MW at the Dundonnell wind project in Western Victoria, up to 270MW for the Palmer wind project in South Australia, up to 300MW for the Rye Park wind project and up to 500MW for another wind project, both in NSW.
“These projects are expected to be well positioned should the outcome of the current review of the Renewable Energy Target regime
by the Australian Government confirm an ongoing framework that is supportive of further renewable energy investment in Australia,” it says.