Australia's biggest wind farm - the vital statistics | RenewEconomy

Australia’s biggest wind farm – the vital statistics

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Australia’s largest wind farm was officially opened on Friday. Here are its vital statistics.

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Macarthur wind farm – the largest in Australia and the southern hemisphere – was officially opened in south western Victoria on Friday by the local member and state premier Denis Napthine. The 420MW wind farm, built at a cost of $1 billion by AGL Energy and New Zealand company Meridian, is the biggest single investment in renewable energy in the country since the Snowy Mountain hydro project was completed in the 1970s, the companies say.

The Macarthur wind farm will nearly double AGL’s wind farm portfolio to 924MW, and lifts it above hydro for the first time. Wind now accounts for 16 per cent of its generating capacity, compared to 14 per cent for hydro (Coal is 37 per cent and gas is 33 per cent).

The project was welcomed by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, who said the capacity of wind farms in Australia had risen from 1,140 MW when it was first elected in 2007 to nearly 3,000MW today.

“Wind farms with asset lives of 25 years or more need stability in climate change policy to justify these investments,” Combet said. “The Coalition needs to make clear to the wind industry and regional Australia whether it supports the legislated 41,000 GWh Large-scale Renewable Energy Target which will ensure more than 20 per cent of Australia’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2020.”

Here are some interesting vital statistics:

It’s the largest wind farm in Australia, and in the Southern Hemisphere

It’s also the most expensive, at $1 billion.

It’s the largest investment in Australian renewable energy since the Snowy Hydro Scheme in 1974.


It features the largest wind turbines installed in Australia. Vestas V112-3.0MW turbines with an 85m tower height and 55m blade length. (It was originally going to use 174 Suzlon S88 turbines for a total capacity of 365MW, but AGL Energy got a better deal with Vestas that allowed it to reduce the number of turbines and increase capacity).

All the towers were produced in Australia, with Portland-based Keppel Prince Engineering building 80 tower sections, and Adelaide-based RPG Australia (which entered administration last year) building 60 tower sections.

The wind farm required 56,000 cubic metres of concrete, with 400 cubic meters (the equivalent of 80 concrete trucks) required for the foundations for each of the 140 towers. About 1,120 heavy lifts were required to joint the tower sections, nacelles, hubs and blades.

The wind farm has three substations and 3 main substation transformers. Construction commenced in October 2010, and were completed in January, 2013 – three months ahead of schedule.


In the western districts of Victoria, about 300kms from Melbourne. It is located on three properties primarily used for sheep and cattle herding, and covers 5,500 hectares some 16km east of Macarthur, between Hamilton and Warnambool.


The wind farm says it will produce enough electricity to power about 220,000 average homes in Victoria, and abate more than 1.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year.

According to a 2010 press release, Macarthur is expected to have a capacity factor of 35 per cent (about average for Australian wind farms), with an average wind speed of 7.6 metres/second.o


It created 644 direct jobs in Australia and a total of 2,183 direct and indirect jobs. About 30 staff operating and maintaining the wind farm will be employed directly for its 25- year expected life-span.

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  1. Chris Fraser 7 years ago

    Congratulations Macarthur on a job very well done. They were raving about you on Sydney Radio 2GB this morning – but not really in a good way. Congratulations to the state of Victoria also for the then existing planning laws that allowed it all to happen.

  2. Owen 7 years ago

    So is there an estimated $/MWh for this most recent of Australian wind projects? Would be interesting to compare with Jones figure of $200/MWh.

    • Ronald Brakels 7 years ago

      With a discount rate of 5% it comes to roughly 5.6 cents a kilowatt-hour or $56 dollars a megawatt-hour.

    • veloaficionado 7 years ago

      Can you expect Alan Jones to burst blood vessels about anything remotely accurate to do with renewable power generation? He’s nasty and hate-filled:

  3. Tim Buckley 7 years ago

    What a great achievement for Australia. Congratulations to AGL, Meridian and Vestas. To build one of the world’s largest wind farms ahead of schedule. a 35% capacity factor puts it in the top quartile of large windfarms globally as well. Imagine what more we could do if our State Governments got out of the way! Tim Buckley, Arkx Investments

  4. David Clarke 7 years ago

    Congratulations to everyone involved. It will be good for all of us, even for all of those who oppose wind power. A step toward a more sustainable world.

  5. Paul McArdle 7 years ago

    Hi Giles

    Had a look today and it was ironic that the wind was not blowing for the opening:


    • Ronald Brakels 7 years ago

      I watched the ABC news report and it was obvious the wind was blowing while Denis Napthine was there. It was even rufflng the protesters signs.

  6. Concerned 7 years ago

    If Jones is wrong,report him to ACMA.

  7. Thanks, Giles Parkinson, for filling us in on this forward looking renewable energy project in Victoria.

    But poor Victoria! Having got rid of the anti wind energy Premier Baillieu, we are now stuck with that wimp Napthine. He is theoretically a supporter of wind energy, projects himself as representing an area where wind energy is taking off – but will Napthine do anything to undo Victoria’s anti wind regulations? Apparently not. Looks like the fossil fuel industries have got a grip on Victoria’s Liberal party, regardless of whether or not the Premier believes their anti wind astroturfing.

  8. 420 MegaWatts capacity
    35% capacity factor
    => average output of 147 MegaWatts

    say 8,766 hours per year
    => average yearly output of 1,288,602 MegaWattHours

    say 25 year lifetime
    => expected lifetime output of 32,215,050 MegaWattHours

    build cost stated as “one billion dollars”
    = $1,000,000,000

    => build cost per MegaWattHour = $31

    Estimated operating cost over 25 years …

    (a) wages and associate costs:
    stated that 30 staff will be employed …
    say $100,000 per year per person employed
    => estimated wage bill per year of %3million
    => estimated lifetime wage bill over 25 years of $75million …
    so add another $2 or so … to the cost per MegaWattHour

    (b) non-wages costs (maintenance, interest):
    guess 4 percent of build cost per year average over 25 years …
    so 100% of build cost over 25 years …
    so add another $30 or so … to the cost per MegaWattHour

    => total cost per MegaWattHour = $60 or so

    or for us house holders, cost per kWh = six cents …

    • Concerned 7 years ago

      You should return to accounting school.

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