Western Australia’s Ten Mile Lagoon wind farm facility reached the end of its design life last year and there are fears that blades and integral parts will not be replaced.
Synergy, the utilities company that operates that facility, found that despite reaching the end of its life the turbines could safely keep operating for another five to seven years, but has specified that they do not intend to replace the turbines when that time has elapsed.
Speaking with the ABC, Esperance Environment group LEAF spokeswoman Lindy Shippard says Esperance is an innovative town and the wind farms are a significant part of that.
“I think the wind turbines themselves and the fact that they’re a green, clean energy are one of the favourite points of Esperance, they’re a focal point for the community,” she said.
“The concerns for the future are that there will be no useful wind turbine operating in the near future and the future beyond, that they might be left there as an icon to look at and drive past but they’re not going to be operating successfully.”
The Ten Mile Lagoon wind farm sits on a coastal ridge just 16 km west of Esperance in Western Australia, feeding off the strong Roaring Forties winds.
As Australia’s first commercial wind farm, built in 1993, along with Synergy’s other wind farm in operation, Nine Mile Beach, supplies up to 20 per cent of the town’s electricity and saves an estimated 10,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
The site consist of nine 225-kilowatt Vestas wind turbines with a total generating capacity of just over two megawatts.
Esperance Shire President Malcolm Heasman said although the loss of the turbines signifies the end of an era, apart from environmental implications, it would have no impact on power generation for the town.
“Obviously green energy is the better way to go, but it is an expensive way of generating power,” he said.
“Like all infrastructure it does have a use-by date and I guess the wind farm’s approaching that, so from our point of view what we would look at is what effect is it going to have on power supply in Esperance.”
“We would feel it would have zero effect, primarily because most of the power generation in the town is generated from the gas turbine facility that we currently have.”