The final turbine of what will be – for a short time, at least – Australia’s largest wind farm has been installed at the 453MW Coopers Gap project in Queensland, roughly 250km north-west of Brisbane.
AGL Energy’s head of construction, Brian McEvoy, announced the news on Thursday, saying the final blade of the 123rd GE wind turbine had been hoisted into place and fitted to the turbine last Friday.
The wind farm, which produced its first generation in June of last year, is the second greenfield project of AGL’s Powering Australia Renewables Fund (PARF), which was co-created with QIC – an investment company owned by the Queensland government.
And while it is out and away the largest wind farm in Queensland so far, it will soon enough be pipped for largest in Australia by Goldwind’s 530MW Stockyard Hill project, which just this week kicked off the commissioning, or energisation process.
“This is a significant milestone for everyone involved in the Coopers Gap Wind Farm project including the owner, the Powering Australian Renewables Fund,” said McEvoy.
“It continues a process that began in early 2018 and which included transporting more than 1,200 components more than 300 kilometres from the Port of Brisbane over a mountain range to the Darling Downs site, where the giant turbines were assembled and erected.
“The scale of the achievement is underlined by the fact that each of the blades are more than 60 metres long, the nacelle housing the generating parts weighed 90 tonnes, and they were lifted more than 100 metres into the air hundreds of times to be fitted.
“About 200 people from the GE – Catcon consortium worked on site at the peak of construction work but this will wind down to about 20 once operations begin.”
McEvoy said 96 of the 123 turbines had been commissioned so far and 182MW of power was currently being delivered into the National Electricity Market as the wind farm gradually ramped up to its full capacity.
Once that is achieved – the $850 million project is expected to be up and running at full capacity in the second half of this year – Coopers Gap will generate enough renewable energy to power 264,000 average Australian homes.
AGL has also recently confirmed plans to build a 100MW/150MWh “giant” battery in Wondoan, in Queensland’s Western Downs region, to provide “firm capacity” to support Cooper’s Gap and other future renewable projects.
As RenewEconomy editor Giles Parkinson reported here, AGL CEO Brett Redman has described the Australian energy market as “staring at the dawn of battery age,” and adding that it would be pivotal to providing firming capacity in transformation from coal to renewables.
“The BESS will enable AGL to leverage excess solar generation in Queensland and provide capacity when the Coopers Gap Wind Farm and other renewable power sources are not generating,” Redman said.