A legal bid to block the development of a 180MW South Australian wind farm that plans to host an energy storage facility more than twice the size of the Tesla big battery, has been rejected by the state’s Environment Resources and Development Court.
The case, brought by neighbours of the Twin Creek Wind Farm being proposed by RES Australia, sought to have the project reclassified as a Category 3 development, which would have cleared the way for them to appeal its planning approval.
As we reported here, the wind farm – originally proposed back in 2014 – plans to host 51 turbines across various parcels of crop and sheep grazing land, north-east of the township of Kapunda, or around 90km north of Adelaide.
The battery was initially proposed at 50MW battery, but later upgraded to 215MW, making it much larger than Neoen’s 100MW Hornsdale Power Reserve.
According to legal blog Lexology, the “concerned owner and occupier neighbours” behind the application to reclassify the project had argued that not all of the turbines were located at least 2km from an existing dwelling, and that the proposed energy storage facility was too big to be ancillary to the wind farm.
But the reviewing judge dismissed both claims, ruling that there were no turbines proposed to be situated less than 2km from an existing “habitable” dwelling; and that the battery energy storage facility was either, one element of the wind farm, or ancillary to it.
In explaining the latter ruling, the judge noted that the battery energy storage facility would provide support to the function of the wind farm, and the much smaller footprint of the battery compared to the wind farm as a whole.
The decision sets an important precedent for renewable energy developers, with a number of large-scale wind and solar projects at various stages of the development pipeline proposing to battery storage facilities.
In South Australia, this includes the 200MW Solar River Project, which plans to include a 100MW battery in the state’s mid-north.
The $330 million RES Australia project has been the subject of some opposition from the local communities, concerned with about noise pollution, impact on environment and protected species, and visual impact of the 180 metre tall turbines.
A Facebook page called NO Twin Creek wind farm has also been set up. It has 105 followers.
In an interview with local radio last May, Twin Creek project manager Dan Leahy said the company had held six community consultation events to discuss these concerns, had taken feedback and redesigned parts of the project.
“We did shift around and move some of the turbines to take account of some of the concerns,” he said.
According to a PDF on the project’s website, construction of the wind and battery storage facility would create 160 jobs, with eight full-time jobs created on completion. The completed wind farm is expected generate enough energy to power 118,000 homes.
RES has also pledged to create a $50,000 annual annual fund for 25 years for local community investment.
In the interview with Flow FM last May, Leahy said the site proposed for the wind farm – which spans the territory of three different councils, Light Regional, Goyder and Mid Murray – was perfect for a wind farm, being on a ridge and exposed to the great local resource.