The 458MW Coopers Gap wind farm in south west Queensland, the newest and biggest wind project built to date in Australia – is to undergo major repairs after faults were found in its commissioning process.
AGL, which operates the $850 million project and is a joint owner through the Powering Australia Renewables Fund, said in a statement that the blades of one of the 123 turbines will have to be replaced entirely, while GE Catcon is also going to replace “generators” – referring to the equipment in the nacelle at the top of the wind tower – in a further 50 turbines.
“During the commissioning process, rigorous tests were carried out to ensure the long-term operational capability and reliability of each component,” AGL said in a statement.
“However, recent testing by GE has identified that one of their wind turbines will need to be replaced. An exclusion zone has been erected around the turbine to ensure safety. GE will also replace a number of generators to ensure long term, reliable operations.”
It is believed that only the blades, and not the tower will need to be replaced, as a result of a fault that has not been revealed. Still, with the blades of the GE measuring 60 metres long, and weighing 22 tonnes, and fixed more than 100 metres in the air, it will be a complex process.
There are 91 GE 3.63MW turbines (137m rotor diameter) installed at the site, and 32 GE 3.83MW (130m rotor diameter) turbines.
In its own statement, GE said: “During GE’s routine inspection and testing, it was identified that one of the turbines will need to be replaced. This turbine has been taken out of service while the Coopers Gap project continues to remain operational.
“GE takes reliability of our equipment seriously and is taking a proactive approach to change out generators, a component inside the nacelle, in 50 of the turbines. We have already commenced planning for a repair program conducted in phases to minimise disruption.”
GE said the repairs would be conducted one turbine at a time. It did not give an indication of the cost or timetable of the project.
The issues at Coopers Gap – located 260kms north west of Brisbane between Dalby and Kingaroy – add to a terrible run of issues for some of Australia’s largest wind farms, including the delays to commissioning of the 336MW Dundonnell wind farm – and the fall of a blade from one of its turbines that stopped all production for several days.
Other major wind farms are also taking much longer to be completed than originally expected, including the 530MW Stockyard Hill wind farm which will overtake Coopers Creek as the biggest in the country when it finally gets on line. Coopers Gap has been running about one year behind its original schedule.
PARF has also been having problems with the Broken Hill solar farm and the Silverton wind farm, both of which have been impacted by grid constraints in western NSW, and have been warned of further problems in coming years because of congestion on the main transmission line that connects them to the grid.
The 420MW Macarthur wind farm operated by AGL delivered a relatively low capacity factor of just 26 per cent last year.